Planned youth detention center alarms South Carroll residents

January 26, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

South Carroll residents whose homes surround Springfield Hospital Center said last night they are sitting on a time bomb. Many said they fear the state plans unbounded expansion on the 400-acre facility.

"Every day we hear about something else the state wants to do with the property," said one resident who requested anonymity.

About 75 people met with state Juvenile Detention officials at the Eldersburg library last night to discuss the proposed Sykesville Detention Center. The 74-bed facility, planned for the Lane Building on the hospital grounds near Route 32, would house youths aged 12 to 18 who are awaiting disposition of their cases. The juveniles could be detained for up to 120 days.

"Although Carroll County is certainly not perfect for us, Lane seems perfect for our needs," said Harry Langmead, the state's executive director of field services.

The department's needs will only increase, he said.

"By 2000, we are predicting an enormous number of kids coming into our system, and we have to have space to detain them," said Mr. Langmead. "Since the late 1970s I have been looking for more detention beds. I can't get them, and it's getting worse."

The proposed center would serve youths from Area II, which includes Baltimore, Harford and Carroll counties. The juveniles must be housed near the courts where their cases are adjudicated.

Residents complained that Carroll is not in the center of Area II and claimed less than 5 percent of the juveniles would be Carroll residents.

"We understand the justification for the facility," said Scott Gearhart, of Carrolltowne. "But why does it have to be in this county?"

Mr. Langmead said renovating the Springfield building was the state's most cost-effective option after an extensive architectural survey. He also said there were no escapes from self-contained centers in 1992.

Despite those reassurances and the addition of 99 jobs to the area, residents remained opposed to the facility.

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