Juvenile Justice | WYPR

Juvenile Justice

WYPR

The agency in charge of Maryland’s juvenile justice system dodged the state’s competitive bidding process by artificially dividing contracts into smaller dollar amounts, according to a state audit released Wednesday. The findings were referred to the state attorney general for investigation.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Sitting handcuffed and shackled for a long car ride can be traumatic for a child. Deborah St. Jean, the director of the state public defender’s Juvenile Protection Division, said one of her clients particularly dreaded the shackles.

“When this girl has to come to court, she is handcuffed, shackled — black box, waist chains, 25 pounds — and she has tremendous anxiety about that,” St. Jean said. “And each conversation I have with her when I’m telling her she’s going to court, she will invariably ask me, ‘Do I have to be handcuffed? You know that’s so awful.’ It’s a three-hour ride for her.”

Rachel Baye / WYPR

A state panel voted Thursday to restrict when and how the Department of Juvenile Services shackles children in its custody while transporting them to and from detention centers. The recommendations will result in changes to department policy and, in some cases, state law.

Rachel Baye

A state legislative committee voted Thursday in favor of changes to how and when the Department of Juvenile Services strip searches children and adolescents in its custody. However, the group delayed decisions about new regulations for when and how to shackle youth.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

A legislative committee is expected to vote Thursday to limit shackling and strip searching children. The proposals will likely lead to new Department of Juvenile Services policies almost immediately.