He calls many of them ‘unfounded.’
Frederick, Md. (KM) Accusations about the mistreatment of juveniles housed at the Frederick County Detention are “unfounded,” according to Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. A letter from Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe claims that conditions at the local jail for juveniles are unconstitutional, and in some instances, violate the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Speaking recently on WFMD’s “Morning News Express,” Jenkins says the local detention center located on Marcies Choice Lane only houses a few juveniles. He says many have been charged with or convicted of felonies, such as attempted murder, attempted 1st-degree murder, 2nd-degree violent assault, aggravated assault, escape and riot. “So they’re not choirboys, okay,”: Jenkins says.
Even though the detention is designed for adults, Jenkins says the staff does its best to accommodate any juveniles being held at the local jail. “They’re housed together when there are more than one,” he says.
The letter has accused the local jail of putting juveniles in isolation. Jenkins says that’s true to a point. “If there’s only one, yes, he is isolated,” he says. “One of the allegations is they’re isolated for long periods of time. Yes, if they’re a disciplinary problem. But generally no.” He calls that letter a “hit piece.”
DeWolfe also accused the detention center in his letter of denying the youths the education they’re entitled to. “Are there’re issues about the fact that they may not be getting their education piece, yes. Because there’s no program in place to accommodate that,” Jenkins responds.
Juveniles who have independent education plans do see a tutor once a week. “They’re weren’t Frederick County students anyway, so they’re not provided tutors by Frederick County Public Schools. But we’re going to look into those things because if we can make it work, we will,” the Sheriff says.
Frederick Community College does provide GED instruction to inmates, but only those 18 and older can participate.
Another charge in the letter states that one of the youthful offenders housed at the detention center had not received any of his five medications for four months. Jenkins says it took a long time for the staff at the jail to get his parents consent before allowing their child to take his prescription medications. “He was under the age of 18. We went back and forth, had to get parental consent to give him the medications. We had to get form signed. That communication went back and forth a number of times before the parent finally signed consent,” he said.
In his interview on the “Morning News Express,” Jenkins says it seems unusual that this letter was sent out on the August 27th, and the News Post received it the next day. And the addressees didn’t see it until August 30th. “This is an election year. I believe parts of this were orchestrated to take a shot at the Sheriff’s Office, take a shot at me,” the Sheriff says. “We’re going address all these issues, make sure what we’re saying is true and accurate, and, in fact, I’m pretty confident it is.”
By Kevin McManus