Another camp guard dismissed, officials say

Hearings scheduled to investigate youth center violence

January 25, 2000|By Todd Richissin | Todd Richissin,SUN STAFF

As state officials announced yesterday that the eighth guard at one of its boot camps for juveniles had been fired, the legislature scheduled hearings to investigate a pattern of violence against teen-agers in custody and the lack of supervision once they're released.

The fired guard had worked at Meadow Mountain Leadership Challenge, one of three Garrett County facilities that had been operated as boot camps for some of the state's juvenile delinquents.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening suspended the camps last month after reports appeared in The Sun about guards routinely assaulting delinquents.

"He was terminated for violating the department's excessive force policy," said Bob Kannenberg, spokesman for the state's Department of Juvenile Justice. Officials would not release the guard's name.

The firing is the most recent action against 14 guards who were placed on administrative duties last month because of accusations they had assaulted teen-agers.

Seven of the guards were fired Jan. 7. Five others have resigned. One remains on administrative duties.

In Annapolis, state Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah, chairwoman of one of the legislative subcommittees that oversees juvenile justice issues, said she has scheduled a hearing for Monday and more are likely to follow.

"I want to know about these boot camps," said Lawlah, a Democrat from Prince George's County. "I want to know why nobody knew what was going on there, and if they did, why they didn't do anything to stop it."

Lawlah said she was "stunned" by reports last month that guards routinely punched delinquents and slammed them to the ground without provocation.

She also was disturbed by reports in the newspaper that said released delinquents were able to avoid drug rehabilitation and probation programs without penalty from the state juvenile justice agency or the courts.

"We're going to probe, and we're going to probe deep," Lawlah said. "We think we'll get some answers."

She requested that the department be represented at her subcommittee hearing by Bishop L. Robinson, a former Baltimore police commissioner and state public safety secretary, who was appointed interim secretary last month after Glendening ousted Gilberto de Jesus, his top deputy and three of his aides.

Kannenberg said Robinson would appear before the public safety, transportation and environment subcommittee.

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