Ehrlich said he wants to explore opening a maximum-security youth detention center that would be a "middle ground" between the juvenile and adult systems.
"These are savable kids," said Ehrlich, although he conceded he supported legislation in the General Assembly to make it easier for teen-agers to be sent to adult prison.
Ehrlich's proposal does not include plans for boot camps, which have been a source of controversy under the current system. In 1999, The Sun detailed how juvenile offenders were abused at the boot camps, which have since been closed.
The boot camps, which are the focus of a federal investigation, are one of several examples Ehrlich included in campaign literature attacking Townsend's oversight of the agency.
The booklet, titled "Was Anyone Fighting for Maryland's Children?," includes a timeline of the violence, escapes and suicide attempts made by youths in the juvenile detention system since 1995.
"Our crime czar lieutenant governor bears direct responsibility for the dysfunctional state of juvenile justice in this state," Ehrlich said.
Phillips, Townsend's spokeswoman, said the state is investing millions of additional dollars on mental health and substance abuse counseling for youths in the system.
Townsend is also, as Ehrlich has proposed he would do, working to increase community-based detention programs while trying to eliminate larger detention facilities, Phillips said.
The state recently closed the Victor Cullen Center in Frederick and is reducing the size of the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George's County.
"This is a system that needed to be reformed, and it is being reformed," Phillips said.
Sun staff writer Sarah Koenig contributed to this article.