P.G. study urges drug test for juveniles upon arrest

November 20, 1990|By Thom Loverro | Thom Loverro,Sun Staff Correspondent

UPPER MARLBORO -- Youths arrested in Prince George's County would undergo routine drug-testing, if a recommendation unveiled yesterday by a task force studying juvenile crime is adopted.

However, that testing should only be done if adequate treatment is available for young drug users, said task force members in a report to county State's Attorney Alexander Williams Jr.

The panel also recommended:

* Use of drug-detecting dogs in county schools to reduce drug abuse among students.

* Tougher penalties against parents who refuse to take part in court-ordered family therapy or who make it difficult for their children to comply with probation conditions.

* More high-security centers for violent or dangerous juvenile offenders. The state now has only the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore for such youths. A 48-bed center is planned for Prince George's County, but the task force asked that the state's attorney's office push for adequate treatment programs at the proposed center.

Mr. Williams said he would probably embrace all the recommendations except using drug-detecting dogs in schools.

"That one I have serious reservations about," he said. "It brings up all kinds of problems, such as probable cause and the right of privacy. I also think bringing dogs into the schools would be disruptive."

Mr. Williams also used the report as an opportunity to take a swipe at the state Department of Juvenile Services, which is in a dispute with Circuit Court judges over whether those judges can order juvenile offenders to attend costly treatment programs.

Three youths sentenced in Prince George's to the Bowling Brook Home for Boys in Middleburg, Carroll County, were pulled out of their programs by the state agency, Mr. Williams said.

The state is also refusing to pay for the treatment of two youths sent to the Glen Mills School, a private institution for juvenile delinquents in Concordville, Pa., Mr. Williams said.

"I am on the side of the Circuit Court judges, that they should be allowed to send people to these treatment programs," he said.

Carol P. Hyman, a spokeswoman for Juvenile Services, denied that the youths' terms at Bowling Brook were ended prematurely.

"The school gave a scholarship to one youth, which extended his stay for two months," she said. "The second youth will graduate Nov. 30, and a third youth will be released Dec. 1 because he is not benefiting from continued placement. Bowling Brook raised no objections to these cases."

In the Glen Mills sentencings, Mrs. Hyman said the agency believed that "there are other programs that are as appropriate or more appropriate right here in Maryland."

However, she maintained that the agency has not refused to pay for the treatment.

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