Colorado company to run Hickey Firm is chosen to operate school for young offenders. BY Laura Lippman

July 17, 1991|By Evening Sun Staff

Rebound, a Colorado company that works with juvenile delinquents, is the choice to run Maryland's largest facility for juvenile offenders, sources said.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer was to announce the selection of a vendor for the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School this afternoon at a State House news conference.

Rebound, a Denver group, has a reputation for working with tough juveniles, but has not worked extensively with the Department of Juvenile Services in Maryland. However, at least one local youth, who had a record of sexual offenses, was placed with Rebound last year.

The Hickey School, which includes a detention facility, has been the state's only so-called training school for juvenile offenders since the Montrose School closed in 1988. Its problems in recent years have included a spate of escapes, overcrowding and attacks on employees.

And, while the Department of Juvenile Services -- first under Linda D'Amario Rossi and continuing under current secretary Nancy Grasmick -- increasingly has used small, alternative programs for its youths, the result has been to create what Rossi once called a "residue population" at Hickey. The 200-plus boys assigned there are the state's toughest cases. Learning

disabilities, severe emotional problems and addiction problems are common.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly, horrified by a report on conditions at Hickey, agreed to let a private vendor try its hand at running the facility. The five-year, $80 million request for bids attracted almost 30 inquiries, but only six companies ended up bidding on June 18.

One of the leading contenders had been expected to be W. James Hindman, the founder and former president of Jiffy Lube Inc., who was interested in running Hickey long before state legislators backed the plan. Northeastern Family Services of Danvers, Mass., which runs one program in Maryland, also had )) been expected to be among the bidders.

Proposals were judged by two committees, working separately to evaluate programming and financing. Programming, such as education and vocational training, made up 60 percent of a firm's ultimate score.

However, the contract, Grasmick said, was deliberately vague, in hopes that potential vendors would be inspired to offer creative solutions.

"It has to be different," she said at one point. "We're not going to settle for mediocrity anymore."

Nationwide, only Florida and Tennessee have privately run training schools. Massachusetts, reputed to have one of the nation's best juvenile justice systems, closed its large facilities in favor of small, community-based programs.

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