Emergency Senate bill seeks felony charges for Hickey escapees

January 10, 1992|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- When a private contractor took over the state's facility for juvenile delinquents, it kept the fences, but it may not have kept the right to prosecute youths who won't stay behind them.

About 23 young men have escaped from the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School since it was transferred Sept. 1 to the Colorado-based Rebound Inc. All have been charged with felonies, Jacqui Lampel, a Department of Juvenile Services spokeswoman, said yesterday.

But an emergency Senate bill, heard yesterday by the Judicial Proceedings Committee, asks that Hickey be defined as a "place of confinement," so that escapees can be charged with felonies.

The committee, which heard the bill without comment, has been advised that escape charges will not stick against the youths at Hickey because current laws make no provision for private detention facilities.

However, staff members of the Department of Juvenile Services, the bill's sponsor, said the department maintains that it still may charge youths who flee.

Diane Hutchins, the department's lobbyist, said the legislation was not a response to the spate of escapes during the fall.

"The bill was drafted months ago," she said. "At one point, we just wanted to make absolutely sure that we had the authority."

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