New Youth Detention Facility (Baltimore City)
The New Youth Detention Facility in Baltimore City is a jail planned by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). The facility is slated to be built between the 600 blocks of East Monument and East Madison Streets.
The jail is designed to house between 180 and 230 youth facing trial as an adult. Currently, these youth are incarcerated along with adults in the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC). Youth charged as adults are not covered by the provisions for "Sight and Sound Separation" required by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
The state of Maryland announced plans to build new facilities for children and women in 2007, amidst investigations by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) calling BCDC "deliberately indifferent" to the condition of inmates. These plans were tentative; the DOJ demanded maintenance for existing facilities, but not the creation of new ones. One of the biggest concerns, then and now, is the inadequacy of available health care. On January 18, 2008, Governor Martin O'Malley announced plan to spend $200 million constructing new juvenile detention facilities, including one in Baltimore.
Advocates of the new prison suggest that BCDC is unsafe and unhealthy for juveniles, and that the detained youth need their own building. They additionally suggest that a special youth facility would be able to focus more on rehabilitation.
The average number of juveniles housed in BCDC at any given time has declined from 92 to 47 since 2007 (a peak year).
In 2009, Maryland DPSCS selected Dewberry, a preeminent corrections architecture firm, to design the facility. The projected cost of construction was $99.7 million, 9.6% of which goes into design. $14 million had been spent on the project by May 2011.
Plans for the jail called for 180 beds in single-occupancy rooms. Some rooms will be divisible, making room for a total of 230 children. The building would have had a total of 229,348 square feet of floor, with 147,294 net usable square feet. Population size for the detention center is based on a projected total of 180 prisoners in the year 2025.
Plans call for six large housing segments, each of which includes activity spaces, a counseling room, and a space for police officers. The building will also have a gym, a community space, and a separate intake center. Dewberry also plans to seek LEED certification.
PSA-Dewberry, which also has a contract to build a jail for women nearby, intends for various core services to be shared among the two buildings.
A white paper released by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency contests the need for additional bed space. It cites both a decreasing youth population (−17% since 2000) and decreasing crime rates (−33% since 2000) as reasons to expect less crime from Baltimore's youth. The report also notes the existence of "reverse waivers", which allow adult courts to transfer youth to the juvenile detention system while retaining control of their case.
An alliance of community groups, education advocates, and others released a memo to state and municipal politicians, as well as to members of the public, stating several points of opposition to the plan. The memo recommends avoiding the practice of trying youth as adults entirely. It also suggests reallocating the money for the jail to schools and community recreation centers.
Jabriera Handy, for the Just Kids Partnership to End the Automatic Prosecution of Youth as Adults , editorialized in the Baltimore Sun that ending the practice of trying youth as adults would be preferable to the construction of a new jail. As a person tried as an adult when she was 17, Handy also cautions readers that youth ought not to be housed at the Baltimore City Detention Center; she suggests that perhaps a temporary facility could be found.
The new jail has been the target of ongoing demonstrations, many on the vacant lot slated for development. Groups protesting the jail include the Baltimore Algebra Project, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, Kinetics Faith and Justice Network, Occupy Baltimore, the Safe and Sound Campaign, Critical Resistance and more.
Baltimore Algebra Project
The Baltimore Algebra Project has advocated for budget reform since 2004. In 2009 and 2010, after seeing two of its own members tried as adults, the group began to focus on specifically opposing the school-to-prison pipeline. It formed a large coalition to oppose the construction of the youth jail, which it argued would actually lead to more young people being tried as adults and imprisoned.
Schools not Jails
On January 16, 2012 opponents of the jail, including members of the recently evicted Occupy Baltimore protest, held a demonstration they called "Schools not Jails." Members of the group entered the site of the proposed jail and erected a schoolhouse, from which they taught a lesson on Frederick Douglass. State police arrested six protestors and dismantled the building.
While State Troopers arrested the protesters, city police kept away representatives from the media. Fern Shen reported for Baltimore Brew:
- After the tent was gone, Det. Brown, of the the [sic] Baltimore City Police, came over and yelled at me to leave: “You’re supposed to be with the other media outside the perimeter.” Asked why the press had to leave, Brown, said, “I don’t have to tell you that, I just have to escort you over there.” He warned that I’d be subject to the same treatment “they” were, indicating the protesters but declining to say what that treatment was.
Schools not Jails continued to host events throughout the week. Participants heard from different groups, including Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, Civilian-Soldier Alliance, and Critical Resistance. A large police presence remained at the site all week.
The Maryland General Assembly asked the DPSCS to produce a report on whether the number of beds at the facility could be reduced, suspending work on the project in the meantime. In December 2011, DPSCS accepted the NCCD recommendation and recommended that construction proceed for a 120-bed facility. DCPSS reconfirmed this plan in March 2012 and agreed to a $16.9 million cut in the prison's funding.
In April 2012, the Maryland House Appropriations Committee again declared the project suspended and asked DPSCS to provide another report: on whether the existing Pre-Release Unit for Women could be used as an alternative space to hold youth charged as adults.
- Fenton, Justin (28 July 2012). "'Nobody belongs in those conditions': For youths in adult jail, frequent danger, weak supervision and little benefit". Baltimore Sun. p. A1. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
The latest complaints are part of a long-simmering debate over plans for a new jail for youths charged as adults. The state held up the project last year amid criticism from youth advocates who say the jail is unnecessary and that the money would be better spent keeping kids out of the justice system. State officials say the new building would be state of the art and meet the needs of youth detainees in ways not possible in existing facilities.
- Sentementes, Gus S. (18 January 2007). "STATE HAS 4 YEARS TO FIX JAIL". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
He said that new buildings for women detainees and juveniles charged as adults are in the early planning stages. Preliminary estimates put the construction costs at $50 million to $55 million for the juvenile facility and $100 million to $115 million for a new women's jail. But the plans could change under the O'Malley administration, he said. Ultimate goal. The Justice Department agreement does not require the new facilities, but rather calls for improvements to the existing ones.
- "Minding the Jail". Baltimore Sun. 22 January 2007. p. 8A. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
During the 1990s, the state spent about $22 million on plumbing, ventilation and fire safety systems, and since 2000, an additional $5.6 million in upgrades. But the deficiency most troubling to federal officials was the lack of consistent, quality health care for inmates. The state replaced the medical contractor, ending the inappropriate practice of having correctional staff conduct health screenings of inmates. Now it will be up to the O'Malley administration to comply with the agreement and continue with plans to replace the juvenile and women's sections of the detention center.
- Scott, Kinji (22 October 2011). "Baltimore Debates New Youth Jail". The Real News. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
We can have as many programs as you want to, but those programs do not stop all children from committing violent and heinous crimes, and as a result of that, we still have a population of young people, regardless of how small it is, we still have a population of young people who are committing crimes. And when they commit crimes, what do we do? We place them with adults or we place them in a facility that caters and provides services to those young people while they're incarcerated or while they're detained.
- "PSA-Dewberry designing new Baltimore youth detention center". Building Design + Construction. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
A consulting team led by Dewberry has been selected by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to design the new Baltimore Youth Detention Center in downtown Baltimore, Md. The $80-million facility will accommodate youths who have been criminally charged as adults, and will enable the state to increase its educational, counseling, and healthcare services for youth offenders.
- Liz Kay; Yeganeh June Torbati (13 May 2011). "SIZE OF PLANNED YOUTH JAIL TO SHRINK: PROJECTIONS SHOW DECLINE IN ARRESTS OVER 30 YEARS". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
About $14 million has already been spent on planning, design, demolition and site preparation. The most recent construction bid was $69 million, Maynard said, although rising gas prices could drive up the cost of materials. Earlier cost estimates were $100 million. Opponents of the jail project had asked Gov. Martin O'Malley last year to stop it from going forward and to redirect funds into other programs, such as recreation centers and school construction. But state officials said at the time that it was unlikely to be derailed entirely, though it could be reduced in size.
- "New Youth Detention Facility (Baltimore City)" (PDF). Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Service. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Dimensions and Annual Review. January–February 2010 http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/Dewberry/dimensions_20100102/index.php?startid=13#/12. Retrieved 6 August 2012. Missing or empty
- Arifuku, Isama. "Critique of Maryland's Population Forecast: No Call for a New Youth Detention Facility" (PDF). National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- "Proposed Alternative Action Plan" (PDF). Stop Baltimore Youth Jail. 1 September 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Handy, Jabriera (23 January 2012). "Occupy Right to Question Youth Jail Plan: Former teen inmate says state's priorities are misplaced". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Bykowicz, Julie (18 June 2010). "ACTIVISTS PROTEST TO HALT BUILDING OF YOUTH JAIL: 'BOOKS, NOT BARS' SAY FOES OF PRISON PLANNED FOR 5 YEARS". Baltimore Sun. p. A1. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
About 50 activists gathered outside City Hall on Thursday, shouting "books, not bars" and "education, not incarceration." They're planning a briefing next week, which prison system officials have agreed to attend, and are attempting to spread their concerns about the jail through e-mail, letters and word of mouth.
- Bykowicz, Julie (1 August 2010). "CAPACITY OF JUVENILE JAIL RECONSIDERED". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
Advocacy groups that include Baltimore's Safe and Sound Campaign, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Public Justice Center say the state should spend on intervention programs instead of huge jails. At a loud protest in June, they asked the governor to put the brakes on the project.
- Bishop, Tricia (1 November 2010). "HUNDREDS PROTEST STATE PLANS TO BUILD YOUTH JAIL IN CITY". Baltimore Sun. p. A3. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
Several hundred people gathered on Paul Laurence Dunbar High School's football field Sunday afternoon to protest state plans to build a $100 million, 230-bed detention facility in Baltimore for juveniles criminally charged as adults. The two-hour rally culminated in a candle-lit march to the proposed construction site, a quarter-mile away next to the Baltimore City Detention Center, where protesters - chanting "educate, don't incarcerate" - used bolt-cutters to strip away the chain-link fence protecting the property. Once inside, they planted yellow signs reading "Money for jobs and education, not jails" on the grounds and left books behind as a symbolic message. "This is our property," declared Deverick Murray, vice president of programming for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, which describes itself as "Baltimore's progressive policy think tank" and helped organize the event.
- Kilar, Steve (5 October 2011). "Hundreds protest construction of youth jail: They say the money should be spent on schools and recreation centers". Baltimore Sun. p. A2. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
The demonstrators, mostly teens and people in their 20s, represented advocacy groups that believe the tens of millions of dollars allocated for the new jail should instead be spent on recreation centers and school construction.
- Farooq, Umar (24 January 2012). "Baltimore Algebra Project Stops Juvenile Detention Center". The Nation. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- "US police arrest 6 Occupy protesters". Press TV. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Cho, Hanah (16 January 2012). "State Police arrest six members of Occupy Baltimore: Members were protesting planned juvenile detention center". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Shen, Fern (17 January 2012). "Occupy Baltimore – and media – booted from public sidewalk near youth jail site: Youth jail opponents meet state troopers, city police and a SWAT team on Martin Luther King's birthday.". Baltimore Brew. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Spencer Compton; Corey Reidy (20 January 2012). "Occupy Schools Not Jails: Mid-Week Check-In". Indypendent Reader. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- "Downsizing juvenile jail. Our view: A new report should prompt the O'Malley administration to build a smaller detention center for youths accused of adult crimes — and maybe to overhaul how those cases are handled". Baltimore Sun. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
But a new report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency confirms what youth activists have been saying for six years — that a plan to fix the problem by building a $100 million, 230-bed juvenile jail next to the adult jail is the wrong approach. Gov. Martin O'Malley needs to scrap the current plan, which got its start under the Ehrlich administration, and at the very least propose something half the size, though some of the ideas in the report for further reducing the number of youths locked up while waiting for trials in adult court merit serious consideration.
- Maynard, Gary D. (20 December 2011). "RE: DPSCS’ Joint Chairmen’s Report on the Youth Detention Center Population Projection" (PDF). Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
DPSCS accepts NCCDi recommendation amending the Capital Project Program to reflect approximately 120 beds as the proposed reduced design indicates with the appropriate reduced level of programmatic educational, medical and other support functions. If there is a population surge it will be managed though double occupancy of cells.
- Maynard, Gary (20 March 2012). "Re: Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services – Capital Budget Response" (PDF). Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
The Department concurs with DLS recommendation to approve de- authorization of $16.9 million construction funding that was preauthorized earlier for the Youth Detention Center project.
- Maryland General Assembly House Appropriations Committee. "Report of the House Appropriations Committee to the Maryland House of Delegates: 2012 Session" (PDF). Department of Legislative Services. p. 85. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
FURTHER PROVIDED THAT NO FUNDS MAY BE EXPENDED UNTIL THE DEPARTMENT SUBMITS A REPORT TO THE BUDGET COMMITTEES THAT EVALUATES THE OPTION OF RENOVATING THE CURRENTLY VACANT BALTIMORE PRE-RELEASE UNIT FOR WOMEN IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE THE YOUTH-CHARGED-AS-ADULT POPULATION. THE REPORT SHOULD EVALUATE THE CURRENT HOUSING, PROGRAMMING, MEDICAL, RECREATION, AND EDUCATION SPACE AND IDENTIFY ANY NECESSARY CHANGES. THE REPORT SHOULD ALSO INCLUDE A PRELIMINARY COST ESTIMATE AND TIMELINE FOR RENOVATION, IF IT IS DETERMINED TO BE A FEASIBLE OPTION. THE REPORT SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO THE BUDGET COMMITTEES NO LATER THAN JULY 30, 2012 AND THE BUDGET COMMITTEES SHALL HAVE 45 DAYS FROM THE RECEIPT OF THE REPORT TO REVIEW AND COMMENT.
- Aanenson, Kara (9 April 2012). "JAIL FUNDING DELAYED — CALL TO THANK LEGISLATORS!". Stop Baltimore Youth Jail. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
There was an amendment to the capital budget to delay the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services from spending any money for the redesign of the Youth Detention Center until the DPSCS submits a report to the budget committees on if the Women’s pre-release unit could be used as an alternative facility. The report is due July 30, 2012
PSA-Dewberry images of the proposed facility