Five Juvenile Justice Officials Lose Jobs over Boot-Camp Scandal
Hyslop, Margie, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday accepted the resignation of Gilberto de Jesus as secretary of juvenile justice after an ad hoc panel reported a pattern of abuse of boys in the state's boot camps dating back to 1996.
Three other officials involved in running the camps - Assistant Secretary Phil Colbert, camp and youth center Superintendent Don Carter and Assistant Superintendent Jeff Graham - also resigned at the governor's request.
Mr. Glendening fired Mr. de Jesus' deputy, Jack Nadol, after he refused to resign.
A "preponderance of evidence" indicated that boot-camp guards had inflicted physical assaults and "general manhandling" upon the youths between December 1996 and last month, said Mr. Glendening. The evidence included videotapes held by juvenile justice officials.
"[That] is simply not acceptable," said Mr. Glendening, a Democrat. "It doesn't meet any standard or value of this administration or the state of Maryland. . . . Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I know it's our responsibility."
About 200 boys go through the three boot camps and two youth centers in Western Maryland each year. The program is supposed to use military discipline and educational opportunities to right the course of juveniles, who, in many cases, have compiled records of repeated violent offenses.
Juvenile and criminal justice are two areas Mr. Glendening assigned to Mrs. Townsend's oversight.
Mrs. Townsend called what happened at the camps "an unconscionable abuse of authority."
She said the administration questioned juvenile justice authorities about boot-camp officers' conduct in August after the Baltimore Sun asked about an October 1998 induction at one camp.
"Department top management emphatically denied that any excessive force" was being used, described the incident as an "isolated allegation" and assured the administration that anyone accused of abuse was investigated and disciplined, Mrs. Townsend said.
To see that the camps are reformed into constructive agents of change, the administration will establish a citizens' advisory board to see that policies and guidelines are followed, assign independent monitors to all juvenile centers and conduct a full review of follow-up services for inmates. …