All the state departments already know that most (if not all of) the CRIPA investigations initiated by DOJ’s Civil Rights Department are shams instigated for political purposes and more often than not have no connection with any real Constitutional violations.
In the case of New York’s Division for Youth now operated under NYS’ Office of Children and Family Services, the unelected state administration wanted to change the structure of the Juvenile Justice system and did not want to take the political backlash, so grants were funded to produce some ridiculous report and the State administration all but issued a written invitation to DOJ to audit their facilities in order to implement change. No surprise that like most political and governmental reports, the investigative findings issued by both the advocacy groups and DOJ were rife with errors which OCFS never contested because the unelected administrators wanted to make the changes under the political cover of a DOJ investigation. In otherwords, NYS brought on DOJ”s investigation and the investigations and reports were centered around the changes the unelected state administrators wanted to make, but did not have the political clout to do without DOJ and advocacy cover.
It looks like a similar thing is happening in Maryland, only here DOJ investigated MD’s juvenile system and made changes where staff could not impose consequences for delinquent behavior and youths were allowed to run the facility. Now another administration is in charge, and the economic conditions of the country has changed where states no longer have unlimited access to taxpayer funds. As a result, the changes MD implemented due to the sham 2007 DOJ investigation no longer suit MD’s purposes. So to generate enough interest and controversy, all of a sudden advocates and Congressmen are calling for the DOJ to re-engage and mandate that changes be made to Maryland’s Juvenile Justice system.
According to the Baltimore Sun: The U.S. Justice Department‘s civil rights division has not visited the Baltimore City Detention Center in nearly two years, despite an agreement with the state to oversee reforms at the facility. Apparently, the jail’s handling of juveniles has been a continuing concern for the Justice Department even though DOJ has not visited a facility in over 2 years). While the Baltimore Sun has reported that youths describe regular attacks among detainees and lax supervision by correctional officers, this situation is nothing new and, in fact, both MD and DOJ knew that assaults would be a problem when they first initiated the “no consequence” for bad behavior policy 5 years ago.
The fact is that under the prior administration of Don DeVore and Chris Perkins, MD and DOJ wanted lax supervision by correctional officers. Now that the policies and programs implemented are not working (and MD and DOJ knew or should have known that the policies were not going to work), there is a change of tune. How this is DOJ’s responsibility and not the responsibility of the State of Maryland who, under its police powers, has the ultimate authority over the policies regarding incarcerated youth is beyond our understanding. It is absurd that Maryland Congressman i.e. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is pontificating that he will send Perez a letter of inquiry Monday morning to try to get monitors to visit “immediately.”
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings should remember that it was DOJ that created the current mess in the first place. To refresh some memories. In 2007 DOJ investigated MD’s Juvenile facilities. To correct the “alleged” findings, a Federal Monitor by the name of Don DeVore was appointed (Mr. DeVore has since resigned under overwhelming political pressure based on incompetent performance). Don DeVore then appointed Chris Perkins a man with extensive ties to Rite of Passage (parent company of MD’s New Beginnings Juvenile Facility) who was promoted to director of statewide detention facilities. Mr. Perkins was pressured to resign in light of numerous child abuse allegations levied against him while he worked at a Juvenile Justice facility in Montana. Yet another DeVore appointment that was pressured to resign, David Muhammad is currently being accused of sexual assault by a deputy in California.
DOJ has absolutely no legitimate legal authority to oversee Maryland’s state policy regarding incarcerated juveniles that do not rise to the level of a Constitutional violation. The Federal government’s power is limited to the enumerated powers in the Constitution. None of the representatives for the State of Maryland have the legal or elected authority to voluntarily diminish the sovereignty of the State or its people.
So then, what is the REAL motivation for the recent press on Maryland’s Juvenile System?
According to some, Maryland wants to increase and maximize its access to Federal funding. Thus the recent scrutiny on juvenile justice appears to have more to do with getting DOJ to investigate so that state administrators and politicians can sign off on expensive taxpayer-funded projects including ambitious expansion plans for super-sized juvenile justice programs run by Western-based parent company Rite of Passage. Based on past performance, New Beginnings in reality, is not the utopian mecca advocates are making it out to be.
New Beginnings/Rite of Passage: DYRS Juvenile Officer will need surgery to repair the broken bones in his face. Claims New Beginnings Correctional Facility is Unsafe.
New Beginnings/Rite of Passage: Violence prevalent at DC Youth Center. Disturbance escalates into a riot situation.
New Beginnings/Rite of Passage: More than a third of kids failed to complete a treatment program at New Beginnings (aka Silver Oak Academy)
Missouri Model in Maryland and expensive failure results in 400% increase in injuries.