Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Readers Respond

News Opinion Readers Respond

Maryland's troubled youth need treatment now

Your recent editorial on the proposed expansion of the Silver Oak Academy juvenile resident treatment facility failed to address the immediate need for additional treatment beds for youthful offenders ("Backsliding at DJS," Jan. 7).

Far from "backsliding," the Department of Juvenile Services is showing great foresight in seeking capacity to treat youth who would otherwise be in detention while waiting for a vacant treatment bed and not getting credit for their time in detention.

The simple reality is that we do not have enough space in state-run facilities for youth awaiting treatment. On any given day in 2012 there were, on average, 124 youth sitting in a juvenile detention facility, waiting for a treatment bed to become available.

The O'Malley-Brown administration is the first in 20 years to open a state-operated juvenile treatment facility. And this administration has further committed to an ambitious capital plan. It has invested millions of dollars into planning, designing and building future treatment facilities in Baltimore City and Prince George's County. However, the construction process will take time.

In the meantime, many youth in DJS' care need treatment now. An increase of 48 beds at Silver Oak Academy will allow youth to be rehabilitated more quickly and reduce recidivism.

I believe in the vision of smaller, regional facilities that can treat all of Maryland's youth in Maryland. It is a laudable and attainable vision for the future — and one that we are achieving through investing in the construction of state-of-the-art treatment facilities operated by the state. But failure to expand treatment beds now would sacrifice the well-being of youth currently in DJS' care until that vision can be realized.

Sam Abed, Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    • We know how to reduce recidivism

      Any reduction in recidivism rates is good news ("Under Maynard, prisons have crises, but fewer repeat offenders," Aug. 10). People are less likely to return to prison if they have jobs, a safe place to live, and the will to succeed. Children are reunited with parents, and communities become stronger...

    • Juvenile justice reforms: worth the wait

      Juvenile justice reforms: worth the wait

      New laws will improve conditions for troubled youths, but there is more to be done

    • Progress at DJS

      Progress at DJS

      Our view: A recent report suggests the Department of Juvenile Services is making progress toward reducing overcrowding and violence in the state's youth detention facilities

    • Backsliding at DJS

      Backsliding at DJS

      Our view: Adding more beds to private juvenile treatment facilities is bad public policy

    • Hogan sells families short

      Hogan sells families short

      Gov. Larry Hogan finally was able to have a "triumphant" moment when he unilaterally lowered tolls that will cost the Maryland Transportation Authority $54 million per year in funding that could have been used to rehabilitate our infrastructure or plan, design and build new infrastructure ("What...

    • Hogan's misplaced priorities

      Hogan's misplaced priorities

      I am disappointed with Gov. Larry Hogan's decision to withhold $68 million in school funding that the General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to use to help our students ("Hogan funds pensions, but nothing more for schools," May 15).

    • Md. farmers need trade authority

      Md. farmers need trade authority

      Right now, Congress is considering Trade Promotion Authority legislation that will help U.S. negotiators finalize pending trade deals with other countries ("Fast-track's Senate stall," May 13).

    • Hogan's folly

      Hogan's folly

      When rioting broke out in Baltimore City last month, Gov. Larry Hogan rushed to move his office to the city to show how much he "cares" about what goes on here.