- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2001

BALTIMORE Top administrators at two state juvenile jails have resigned amid charges of continuing abuse and public outcry concerning youth detention.

Donald Brooks became the third director this year to leave Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County when he announced his resignation Wednesday, said Laura Townsend, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice.

Mr. Brooks took over the top job at Hickey in July.

Miss Townsend said Richard Daugherty, the clinical director of Victor Cullen Academy in Frederick County also resigned Wednesday. Mr. Daugherty was responsible for administering the substance-abuse program at Victor Cullen.

A coalition of 50 juvenile-justice advocacy groups demanded reform, including the closing of Cullen, at a forum on Wednesday.

Miss Townsend said the state was equally disturbed by reports of abuses at the facilities.

"We're concerned," she said. "For us it's just another concern added on top of all the others."

High turnover of staff was one of the deficiencies the state cited in an audit of Florida-based Youth Services International, the private agency that has a contract to run Cullen until 2002 and Hickey until 2004, Miss Townsend said.

Calls to Youth Services International (YSI) by the Associated Press were not immediately returned on yesterday.

The firm paid a $600,000 penalty in August after auditors concluded Cullen was severely understaffed and fell far short of requirements for mental health care, education and financial controls. The state ordered the audit after at least four inmates escaped in 18 months. Several more escapes have been reported.

In July, two Cullen employees were fired and another resigned amid accusations they staged fights between teen-age inmates.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said this month that the state soon may close Cullen because of continuing shortages in security staff, teachers and food service and recreation workers despite a promise by the YSI to correct the deficiencies.

The lieutenant governor said she was "sickened" by reports that abuses are continuing at the state's three largest juvenile jails Hickey, Cullen and the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George's County. Incident reports at the detention facilities indicate guards have assaulted teen-agers dozens of times.

The lieutenant governor has instructed the state Department of Juvenile Justice to develop an action plan for the juvenile jails by Dec. 31. The department is considering trying to get out of its contract with YSI, Laura Townsend said.

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