Calvert drops rule against jail visits by minors

March 28, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Lance Brady will see his daughter soon -- how much she has grown while he has been in jail waiting for trial, how long her honey-blond hair has gotten, the way she dances around when she's excited.

His baby is growing into a little girl, but it has been almost nine months since the 33-year-old St. Mary's County man has seen her. Kayla has been kept away from the Calvert County Detention Center, which had prohibited visits by anyone younger than age 16. Brady has been jailed there since November on burglary charges.

Less than two weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland filed a federal lawsuit challenging the jail's policy, county officials have agreed to revise the rules.

As of Sunday, minors accompanied by adults will be allowed to visit inmates, Robert W. Lusby, the Detention Center administrator, said yesterday.

Kayla Brady can't wait, said her mother, Joanne Dimuzio, who hopes the three will be able to arrange a visit Sunday afternoon.

The ACLU filed suit on Brady's behalf March 20. County attorneys had argued that visits were a "non-fundamental right" of inmates, according to county correspondence.

"It's a hard issue. I do understand where some parents might not want to bring their children to a detention center," Dimuzio said. "It's hard for them to understand my position. But I just don't think I could call myself a good parent if I kept her from her father. I just kept asking myself what's going to best in the long run."

ACLU staff attorney Dwight Sullivan filed a request for a preliminary injunction that would allow visits by children while cases were being litigated. But it appears there will be no litigation, he said.

"We're very happy with this outcome," Sullivan said. "This is precisely what we wanted."

Sullivan said the ACLU is considering challenges to the policies of other five detention centers in the state that do not allow visits by children. They are in Charles, St. Mary's, Dorchester, Somerset and Wicomico counties.

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