Youth program permit sought

Bowling Brook's owner seeks license, troubling some advocates

August 05, 2008|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN REPORTER

A Nevada company that recently purchased the grounds of the Bowling Brook Preparatory School - a Carroll County youth lockup that was shuttered last year after a Baltimore boy died there - has applied for a state license to operate a juvenile program.

Rite of Passage has been working for months to open a privately run facility for young offenders - a move that some advocates have said could contradict the state's new approach to treating juvenile delinquents in small residential settings. Bowling Brook has 173 beds. Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore has said that 48-bed facilities better address the needs of young offenders.

On Thursday, Rite of Passage submitted its application for licensure to the Governor's Office for Children. Tony White, a spokesman for the agency, said the office has 90 days to review the application and make a recommendation to the Department of Juvenile Services. Until that recommendation is made, the application is not public, White said.

In late June, the three-member state Board of Public works agreed to let Rite of Passage assume the debt of the previous owners of Bowling Brook. Comptroller Peter Franchot objected to the transfer. Gov. Martin O'Malley approved the transfer without questions. Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp also approved it but urged the Department of Juvenile Services to carefully consider the private company's application to run a program.

Responding to questions by Franchot and Kopp at the June 25 Public Works hearing, DeVore said he would involve state legislators and others in the licensing process and would not deviate from his 48-bed strategy.

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