Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ANNAPOLIS | Maryland’s flagship secure treatment center for troubled youths has an “alarming” recidivism rate, the state’s juvenile justice watchdog group said in a report released Monday.

The Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit evaluated how often youth at the Victor Cullen Center in Sabillasville continue to have run-ins with the law after they leave the facility.

The report says only three of the 20 youths who successfully completed the program in fiscal 2008 have not been arrested again, and one of those three has been recommitted to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services for a probation violation.

In a response, the department said the facility’s results do not differ significantly from comparable private out-of-state secure programs, and in some measures the facility performs better.

“Though none of these programs serving the most at-risk youth show exceptionally strong results, we are aware that youth who are sent to these programs are often our most difficult to treat and that measurable success by them is our constant struggle,” the department said.

The department also said it would conduct a more detailed review.

The monitor found that only eight of the 45 youths discharged in fiscal 2009 have been out of Victor Cullen for a full year, but 60 percent of them already have been rearrested.

Results for youths in their second year after release “are even more discouraging,” the report concluded.

“Fully 90 percent of youth from the FY2008 cohort have been rearrested, 45 percent of them have been readjudicated or convicted, and 40 percent have been incarcerated,” the report said.

Gauging performance at Victor Cullen is critical, the monitor said, because two treatment facilities in Baltimore and Prince George’s County are in the process of replicating the facility’s treatment model.

“This program should not be replicated unless it can be demonstrated that youth completing the program do well following release,” the monitor said.

The monitor’s report also found that 87 percent of youths who are arrested again after successfully completing the Victor Cullen program are charged in the adult criminal justice system.

“Ninety-one percent of all convictions are adult rather than juvenile, and 85 percent of those reincarcerated have gone to an adult jail or prison,” the monitor’s report found.

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