Maryland officially opens in the coming weeks a new $35 million youth detention center in Baltimore, after a decade of protests from many juvenile advocates and community members over various iterations of its planning. The new state youth detention center was built with the purpose of housing juveniles charged as adults who, by law, must be held separately from adults. Features of the new facility include cleaner living quarters, access to health and dental care, behavioral treatment, classrooms and a gym. The jail has the capacity to hold up to 60 youth at one time, although currently, the average number of beds needed is under 15.

Originally proposed — and rejected — as a $100 million, 230-bed facility in 2007, and again as a $70 million dollar project in 2011, this third and final $35 million version of the youth jail was approved in March of 2015. Advocates say that Baltimore needed a safe place to house and rehabilitate juveniles, and this new facility will better serve those youths, and its improved rehabilitation programs will help them avoid returning to the system. Critics call the jail a poor use of funds and contend that the money would have been better spent on programs like youth centers, or job training programs, which might prevent youth from entering into the prison system altogether.

The new state youth detention center is slated to begin taking in residents at the end of this month.

Rachel Bone

Rachel Bone is a regular contributor to the Baltimore Fishbowl.