“There are more questions than answers remaining about
March 24, 2007 by
Thursday March 8,
It was an ignoble end for a storied highly touted facility of fifty years in an otherwise discredited juvenile services system in
Mr. Simmons died while being physically restrained after it is alleged that he threatened another student. In a January 27 Bowling Brook press release it was revealed, “When Isaiah became threatening, our staff responded for his safety and the safety of others… (H)e was restrained humanely consistent with state-approved discipline policies and counseled throughout to de-escalate the crisis.”
A transcript of the 911 tape reveals a Bowling Brook employee saying, “It was the same thing we do all the time when we have an aggressive kid. I don't know what happened. He was in a restraint, and then he stopped responding.”
This tragic death is horrible but nevertheless situational – not systemic.
As the number of juvenile offenders has exploded in recent years,
In the face of a federal lawsuit and the outcry of juvenile advocates, facilities such as the widely discredited
However this only exacerbated the
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s answer to the crisis in juvenile services was to close Bowling Brook and announce in his supplemental budget, $6.8 million to re-open Victor Cullen just several miles from Bowling Brook; for only 48 students. That discredited facility has remained “temporarily” closed since April 2002 due to budget constraints. Where did Governor O’Malley suddenly find $6.8M?
At a time when
Why have folks, who once praised the facility, quickly change their tune and sing that Bowling Brook was a victim of its own success and had grown too large?
If the “successful”
Why did the Maryland General Assembly overwhelmingly pass House Bill 1148 and Senate Bill 503 in 2005 exempting Bowling Brook from 2004 legislation mandating a capacity limit of 48 for juvenile facilities?
Governor O’Malley’s “Transition Committee for Juvenile Services Report,” issued on February 21, 2007 “strongly recommend(ed) that the new administration proceed quickly with making strategic, evidence-based reforms … addressing problems proactively.”
Is closing the highly acclaimed Bowling Brook, within days of the issuance of the report, “addressing problems proactively” with “strategic, evidence-based reforms?” Exactly why did Mr. Simmons die while being “restrained humanely consistent with state-approved discipline policies?” Why not address that problem proactively?
How are juvenile facilities to appropriately restrain a juvenile offender who is physically threatening other students? Do the state-approved discipline policies for restraint need to be changed with “evidence-based reform” to avoid another tragedy? Why not spend some of the newly minted $6.8M for additional study to change the standards and provide additional training.
How often does a community rally to have a juvenile facility in their own back yard? Many hope that Governor O’Malley will address the challenges of
The writer is the former mayor of Westminster 2001-2005.
His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, March 25th, 2007 UPDATE: I’m certainly encouraged by the thoughtful and responsible feedback I have received on this post in “comments.”
(For more posts and information on “Soundtrack” please click on Bowling Brook.)
Please keep in mind that letters to editor are also very important in addition to letters to Governor O’Malley and Secretary DeVore.
Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to: email@example.com
Mr. Jim Joyner, Editor
(410) 386-0334 ext. 5004
I would love for The Westminster Eagle to have a page or several pages of letters to the editor …
Please pass the word. We need as many thoughtful, respectful, and polite letters as possible to go to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Maryland Juvenile Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore.
I have assured many folks that the letters need not to be long or over-thought. Push comes to shove, a hand written note with several sentences expressing support is really all that is needed.
Whispers in the hallways of
The addresses once again:
The Honorable Governor Martin O’Malley
Office of the Governor
The Honorable Secretary Donald W. DeVore
Thank you. There are many young adults that face an uncertain future as a result of being relocated from Bowling Brook to one of the failed state-run facilities. The quicker Bowling Brook is back in operation, the quicker hope may be restored to the lives of many young men.