Girls' disciplining, handcuffing at Hickey School probed by Md.

October 18, 1990|By Eileen Canzian

The Department of Juvenile Services confirmed yesterday that two girls housed in the state's reformatory were handcuffed to their beds by guards and that other girls have been locked in their rooms for periods of up to five days.

The incidents -- serious violations of state policy -- happened in the 18-bed girls' unit of the Charles H. Hickey School in Cub Hill. The department admitted the problems in a terse, written statement released last night.

The two-paragraph statement said the girls were handcuffed for one to two hours, but it offered no further details about the handcuffing or the circumstances under which the girls had been locked in their rooms.

The statement also said that unspecified disciplinary action had been taken against the workers involved. Carol Hyman, a spokeswoman for Juvenile Services Secretary Linda D'Amario Rossi, said department officials would have no further comment "at this time."

The statement was issued in the wake of complaints to the department by University of Maryland law professor Susan Leviton. Ms. Leviton said yesterday that two of her law students had been on a routine visit to the reformatory last month to talk to a young offender whose case is being handled by the university's legal clinic. During the visit, the students were told of the handcuffing incidents, Ms. Leviton said.

Several girls also alleged that male guards were conducting strip searches that are supposed to be done by women. Ms. Leviton said the girls also told of being locked in their rooms for a weekend without access to a toilet, and the students found that the staff's own logs showed that one girl had been kept in an isolation room for five days -- two days longer than allowed by department policy.

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