Meeting fails to offer a cure for problems at juvenile jail

Public defender's office seeks to remove 67 youths

September 24, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A day after the state public defender's office filed a motion seeking the removal of 67 children from the state-run Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, the system's key players gathered yesterday to review the situation but did not resolve the complaints, officials said.

The office's motion was made after the release last week of a report by the Office of the Independent Juvenile Justice Monitor saying the center's conditions posed a safety threat to the juveniles housed there awaiting court hearings.

The center was staffed for 48 youths, but held 106 when monitors visited last month, according to the report. The state Department of Juvenile Services manages the Gay Street facility.

The motion from the public defender's office seeks to have the youths moved to other detention facilities or released to community detention, according to the city state's attorney's office and a vague news release issued by the public defender's office.

Yesterday's meeting was called by Circuit Judge Martin P. Welch, the judge in charge of the city's juvenile court system. It included prosecutors, representatives from Juvenile Services, public defenders, officials from the state attorney general's office and other juvenile court officials, said Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the city state's attorney.

The public defender's office did not return phone calls seeking comment. LaWanda Edwards, a Juvenile Services spokeswoman, declined to comment, and Welch could not be reached for comment.

A hearing date has not been set, Burns said.

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