MARYLAND'S beleaguered juvenile justice system needs more money, more transparency, better focus on the basics and a greater sense of urgency. A revised House bill would help with the last three, as well as enforce the idea that it also is the legislature's duty to ensure that the state helps, not harms, its wards.
It is not acceptable, for example, that the Department of Juvenile Services has been reminded repeatedly, for years, to fix the broken locks on cell doors at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School. Just six weeks ago, two juveniles who slipped out of where they should have been threatened the ward staff and, choosing a door that locks, locked them in a room. That left these two juveniles loose and the others unprotected. Had someone been seriously hurt, he would have had strong grounds to sue the state for failing to repair something it knew about that put people at imminent risk. Similar risks have been reported regularly at other state detention facilities.