FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES LAWSUIT REGARDING CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT AT TWO MARYLAND JUVENILE JUSTICE FACILITIES
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with the State of Maryland regarding conditions of confinement in two juvenile justice facilities: the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Cheltenham, Maryland and the Charles H. Hickey, Jr. School in Baltimore County, Maryland. The settlement resolves a 20-month investigation into the facilities.
The agreement, filed with the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, requires the state to implement reforms to ensure that juveniles in the facilities are protected from harm and provided legally adequate services, including mental health care, medical care, and special education.
“We are pleased with the state’s cooperation and willingness to implement meaningful reforms at these two facilities, both of which have long and troubled histories,” said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “If juvenile offenders are to be put on the path to law abiding and productive lives, they must not be subjected to the kind of conditions that have plagued Hickey and Cheltenham in the past.”
The Department’s investigation revealed numerous civil rights violations, including physical abuse of juveniles by staff, deficient suicide prevention measures, inadequate medical and mental health care, and legally insufficient special education services. Under the terms of the agreement, the state will address and correct all of the violations identified by the Department.
The Civil Rights Division conducted its investigation pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980 (CRIPA). These statutes allow the federal government to identify and root out systemic abuses such as those identified in this case, rather than focus on individual civil rights violations.
The Civil Rights Division has successfully resolved similar investigations of other juvenile justice facilities in Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and Mississippi. Investigations concerning juvenile justice facilities are pending in California, Hawaii, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Oklahoma.
The Department of Justice’s enforcement effort reaches beyond juvenile facilities. Since 2001, the Department has opened 62 similar investigations into the terms and conditions of confinement at nursing homes, mental health facilities, residences for persons with developmental disabilities, jails, and prisons. These figures represent more than a 100 percent increase over the 20 such investigations initiated in the 1998-2000 time period.