A private corrections company in Maryland will be paid up to $4 million a year to provide innovative treatment and custody for young offenders on a mountaintop near the Pennsylvania state line in northwest Frederick County.
Under a five-year contract approved yesterday by the Board of Public Works, Youth Services International Inc. of Owings Mills will try to change the behavior of juvenile offenders with a range of problems, including substance abuse and what the state calls "a lack of response to authority."
The company's founder is W. James Hindman, who also founded Jiffy Lube Inc. He is a friend and political contributor to Gov. William Donald Schaefer. His firm operates similar facilities in two other states, and he was an unsuccessful bidder for a contract awarded last year for operation of the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County.
Mr. Hindman says his task will be to "put these kids back on a winning track.
"We have to grow these kids physically, mentally and spiritually. We have to unravel their thinking errors," he said.
The contract was approved yesterday after Mr. Hindman assured the board that a new fence would be erected and other security measures would be taken before the center opens on Sept. 21. Located near the small community of Sabillasville, the facility has been used most recently for treatment of the disabled and is known as the Victor Cullen Center.
Governor Schaefer said the state will now be able to lengthen the treatment period for young people whose care has been shortened to 3 1/2 months on average as a result of limited space in the juvenile correction system.
Mr. Schaefer observed that the state's new correctional enterprise has not escaped criticism from its neighbors.
Residents have serious concerns about security and about the adequacy of the facility's water and sewer system -- all of which could have an impact on nearby residents, according to Paul M. Fox, a Sabillasville resident. What the community wants is information.
"No one in the immediate neighborhood has been contacted to explain what they were doing or why. . . . There are a lot of elderly people around here. What will they do if one of these street-wise kids lands on their front steps?" he said. Mr. Fox said he will meet today with Mr. Hindman. A community meeting is to be scheduled soon to explain the program more fully, according to Del. F. Anita Stup, R-Frederick.