- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

ARBUTUS, Md. (AP) Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he would revive state-run boot camps for young criminals if he's elected governor.
The camps that were closed after charges of abuse were part of a much-maligned program led by Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the likely Democratic nominee for governor.
Mr. Ehrlich said he is finishing a proposal for the state's juvenile-justice system, signaling that his campaign will focus heavily on the program that has been Mrs. Townsend's responsibility.
Boot camps are the solution for some juveniles who are less violent, Mr. Ehrlich said during an appearance at a lunch Monday in Arbutus.
"Other states are getting results," he said, citing Florida as an example.
When effective, boot camps prevent teen-agers from committing more crimes, he said, adding that mental-health treatment and follow-up care should be a stronger part of the programs.
Maryland operated three juvenile boot camps in Allegany County from 1996 until 1999. The camps closed after published reports that guards were beating inmates.
Last month, Maryland agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit from 890 inmates who served time in the three camps. About half the money will pay for education for the former inmates, with the rest going to 60 teens who were injured.
H. Erle Schafer, a spokesman for the juvenile-justice department, questioned the wisdom of reviving the boot camps, saying "national research shows they are not effective."
The state has no plans to reopen the three camps, Mr. Schafer said.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening put Mrs. Townsend in charge of juvenile justice. She has said she closed the camps as soon as she learned of the abuse.


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