Maryland Gov. Not Backing Proposed Juvenile Detention Facility in Baltimore

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Baltimore Skyline Courtesy of Flickr user sabreguy29

The proposed state budget released by Gov. Martin O’Malley last week indicates that Maryland will not be funding the construction of a controversial youth detention facility in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Sun reports that O’Malley’s 2014 FY capital spending plan does not include funding for a proposed 120-bed, $70 million youth jail in Baltimore City. Originally announced in 2008 by Gov. O’Malley, construction plans for the Baltimore City New Youth Detention Facility -- at one point, expected to house 180 inmates at a construction cost of $100 million -- has been in limbo for the last five years, with the Maryland House Appropriations Committee declaring the project suspended in April 2012.

Even so, the Baltimore Sun reports that the state has already allocated $14 million for the planning and design of the youth detention facility and an additional $17 million for first phase construction costs.

The planned facility has been met with criticism and protests from several groups and organizations, with a white paper released by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency arguing that such a large project was unneeded, considering the city’s decreasing crime rates.

The same day Gov. O’Malley announced that the state was not planning on footing the bill for the Baltimore City detention facility, a $73 million plan was announced by representatives of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Department of Juvenile Services that would eschew funding for the proposed jail altogether, instead reapportioning funding for treatment programs and the renovation of smaller detention facilities.

The proposal, which includes plans for a $40 million treatment facility and $30 million in renovation costs for a prerelease center, currently awaits approval from the state’s General Assembly.

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