There appears to be a disconnect with the state's analysis of how to address the very serious issue of how to adequately and appropriately deal with the placement of young people charged with adult crimes under the state's supervision. Corrections secretary Gary Maynard in his August 6th letter to your paper ("Corrections chief: Youth are kept safe in adult jail") acknowledged that, "these juveniles are in an adult facility because they have been charged as adults with violent felony or other serious crime and are under the jurisdiction of the adult court."
Given the clear implications of this acknowledged reality, why then would the state move these juveniles to an arrangement where they live in dorm-style conditions that hold 32 young people or more when they were previously held two to a cell? The state's rationale for the larger grouping is a desire to foster socialization and provide a less restrictive environment for the juveniles. I respectfully disagree. Housing so many juveniles charged with violent adult crimes is a recipe for serious problems.
I would recommend the state devote greater resources to programs that seek to deter young people from becoming a part of the criminal justice system. The less than 20 percent who must be confined could be accommodated in already existing facilities, while the remaining 80 percent would be provided with educational, health, recreational, substance abuse treatment and family interventions in enhanced community based accommodations. We can and must do better.
Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore
The writer, a Democrat, represents East Baltimore in the state Senate.