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Children held in Maryland's jails are often placed in overcrowded, sometimes physically deteriorating facilities. Although some jails make efforts to separate juveniles from adults, to some extent children have contact with adult inmates in every detention center visited by Human Rights Watch. In all jails, children complain that they are hungry; one youth in the Baltimore City Detention Center told Human Rights Watch that he avoided exercising out of fear that he would use up needed calories.

Some 150 youth, between one-half and two-thirds of all children held in adult detentions centers in Maryland, are placed in the Baltimore City Detention Center, a crumbling, century-old facility equipped with woefully inadequate light and ventilation and infested with cockroaches and rodents. Maintenance at the jail is irregular. The staff relies heavily on the confinement of detainees to their cells, sometimes for extended periods, as a method of behavior management. As a result, both juvenile and adult detainees must endure appalling conditions of detention.

Girls in adult jails are faced with the prospect of near-total isolation, often left with only each other for company. Human Rights Watch investigators touring Baltimore's jail saw the two girls then in detention standing at the door to their section, their faces pressed to the window and schoolbooks clutched in their arms. When we entered the section, they demanded to know when somebody would come to take them to school, telling us that they had not been to classes for three days. "We thought maybe they forgot about us," one said; they reported that they rarely had contact with guards apart from meals and the times they were taken to and from school.125

Conditions in Each Facility

Baltimore City Detention Center

With portions of the Men's Detention Center dating to 1809, Baltimore's city jail is the oldest pretrial facility in use in the state of Maryland. LaMont Flanagan, commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services's Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, referred to the jail as an "artifact" and described the facility as "your old-style jail that you see on television."126 An imposing structure in its own right, the jail is adjacent to the Maryland StatePenitentiary and across the street from the state's new supermaximum security facility.

Approximately 150 juveniles are in detention in the Baltimore City Detention Center on any given day. The vast majority are male, with no more than five to ten girls in detention at one time. (There were only two girls in detention at the time of Human Rights Watch's visit in May 1999.)

Many remain in detention for six months or more. Commissioner Flanagan noted, "According to the statistics, the average stay is seventy-six days. But that's only an average. We have some that stay nine months. Some are up to two years. These juveniles have complicated cases, and they do not plead guilty."127

Juvenile defense attorneys confirmed that children tried as adults spend more time in pretrial detention than their counterparts in the juvenile court system and are detained longer than most adult inmates. Attorneys who represent children charged as adults noted that children who face criminal charges have more incentive to contest the charges against them rather than accept a plea bargain. A significant number secure acquittals or dismissal of charges. According to Flanagan, "Fifty percent are released after a prolonged period of time."128

Figures reported by the Division of Pretrial Detention and Services demonstrate that juveniles are held in pretrial detention for very long periods. For the period January through October 1996, on average fifty-eight juveniles each month have spent more than three months in pretrial detention. In each of these months, at least two juvenile inmates had been in the detention center for more than one year while awaiting trial; in March 1996, thirty-nine juveniles, 23 percent of the total juvenile population, had spent more than one year in detention pending the resolution of their cases in the circuit or district court.129

Male juveniles in the Baltimore City Detention Center are housed in single or double cells in the Men's Detention Center, called the "steel side" by some inmates. Female juveniles are housed in a dormitory in the Women's Detention Center.

The Boys' General Population Section

The general housing area for male juveniles is L Section, located on the second floor of the North Building. Formerly used for inmates on lockup status, the section has a total of sixty cells divided into two sections, each with an upper and a lower tier of fifteen cells each. Bars along the front of each row of cells open onto a passageway; no cell faces any other cell. Exposed pipes, many with torn insulation, line the passageways. The only natural lighting in the section comes from the four or five large windows in each passageway. At the time of our visit in May 1999, most of these windows were partially blocked by plywood or covered by opaque plexiglass or translucent plastic sheeting. Most of the glass panes were broken where the windows were not covered. Each side of the section has two telephones and a dayroom. The single shower room for the section has six shower heads; according to the guards on duty when we toured the section, two shower heads were not working at the time of our visit.

Originally designed for single occupancy, most of the cells in L Section have two bunks and a combination sink and toilet. The majority of the cells measure about eight by seven feet and have eight-and-a-half-foot ceilings; two cells, the first on each side of the upper tier, are slightly larger.130 The section has two isolation cells with heavy metal sheets completely covering the bars, blocking all natural light from entering the cells. According to the detention center security chief, these cells are not used; he stated that the detention center was in the process of having the metal sheets removed from the bars.131 We were unable to confirm that no children were held in these cells in L Section.

L Section housed sixty-nine children on the day of our September visit and seventy-one on the day of our May visit. This number is close to the average daily occupancy in the section since the beginning of 1998.132 Before 1998, the section routinely housed in excess of one hundred, reaching its maximum capacity of 120 in June 1997.133

The Girls' Dormitory

Girls are usually housed in Dormitory M in the Women's Detention Center. The dormitory is a large room holding twelve beds. Floor-to-ceiling bars run along the front of the dormitory; one of the other walls has four small windows. The shower and bathroom are at the back of the dormitory. At the time of our visit in May 1999, the shower walls of this dormitory were being stripped of old paint-up to twenty coats, according to our escort-in preparation for refurbishing; during this process, the girls in detention were housed in the girls' protective custody area.

No adults are housed with the juveniles in this dormitory, and detention center officials repeatedly characterized the housing for juveniles as "sight and sound separation" from adults.134 Nevertheless, women are housed in the next dormitory and could be clearly heard from the girls' dormitory by our researchers. The corrections officer who escorted the Human Rights Watch representatives touring this area conceded, "Well, the female juveniles really can hear the adults. They just can't see them."135 Even that description was not quite accurate, as girls must walk by three or four adult dormitories, each with floor to ceiling bars along the front, every time they go to or from school, receive visits, take recreation outside their dormitory, or go to the clinic. The officer stated, however, that all adults were locked in their dorms any time a juvenile was in the hallway outside the girls' dormitory.

The Boys' Protective Custody Section

Boys who must be housed separately from the general juvenile population, usually those who are particularly vulnerable or who have been threatened by other juveniles, are placed in protective custody in R Section, on the third floor of the south building. The section housed eleven adults and twenty-six juveniles when we visited in May 1999. Cells in R Section are fifty-three square feet in area, the same size as the regular cells in L Section.136 They are arranged in a single row of two tiers. Juveniles and adults appeared to be separated; on the day of our May 1999 visit, juveniles were housed in the west wing and adults in the east wing.

Detainees are housed in single cells with bars across the front. Each had an institutional metal toilet and sink and a fluorescent light on the back wall. Cells were dark and bare except for inmates' toiletries and grafitti scrawled on the walls.

The west wing had televisions one-third and two-thirds of the way down the passageway. Raised up on stacked milk crates so that children on both tiers could glimpse a portion of the screen, the sets were tuned to situation comedies.

Standing at the front of their cells, children look through grey bars and past a floor-to-ceiling metal grill separating the upper and lower walkways to their only source of natural lighting, four large windows set in the wall behind the television sets. Ten to twelve feet from the cell doors, these windows are covered with metal grates; as with the windows in L Section, each in this section was also partially blocked by plywood, translucent plexiglass, or opaque plastic sheeting.

The day room has institutional metal tables and stools and was otherwise bare. A dark, filthy shower at the entrance to the west wing had a plastic curtain tied by two corners to a wire across the doorway to the shower.

Protective Custody for Girls

At the time of our May 1999 visit, the girls' protective custody area housed the two girls in the general population while Dormitory M was being refurbished. There were no girls placed on protective custody status at the time of the visit.

Within the section, a series of small single cells, each with a solid metal door fitted with a feeding slot, open onto a passageway. A large fan was placed at one end of the passageway. A minimally furnished dayroom at the other end has two doors with small plexiglass windows. These windows are the only windows in the entire section, meaning that those housed in the section are deprived of natural light altogether. The dayroom has a telephone. A grimy shower is also located in the dayroom, with plastic curtains to afford some small measure of privacy for those using it.

The jail staff has made some effort to compensate for the deficient physical layout of the girls' protective custody section, providing the girls with a television set, a videocassette player, and a cassette tape player. Commissioner Flanagan told us, "The female juveniles have TV sets, video, their own individual Walkmans-they get more because their participation in activities is severely limited. We can't commingle them with the adults."137 Nevetheless, the two girls in the section described days of unrelieved boredom with few activities.

We also toured the separate adult women's protective custody section in order to see how the Women's Detention Center staff handled a population placed onprotective custody status. Three women were in the dayroom together when we toured the section, which is similar in layout to the girls' protective custody section. The women began to voice their complaints as soon as we entered. "Our main concern is there's no rec. We're in here all day, twenty-four hours a day," said one of the women.138 Another woman pulled one Human Rights Watch representative aside to substantiate her complaint of close confinement for long hours. Stepping into her cell, she closed the metal door and challenged the researcher to tell her that there was any circulating air coming from the narrow meal slot.

We're in the cells for ten hours a day from the beginning. There's no way to call the guards if you have a problem. You just have to bang on the door and yell very loudly. They usually let us out into the dayroom at 4:00 but yesterday they forgot or something. I have a medical problem and got sick.139

Gesturing at the closed cell door and then back at our representative, who was by this time visibly uncomfortable from the heat and lack of circulation, she continued:

You see? That's a penalty. You cannot feel any air here. The guards need to come in here. They should bring one more fan at least. I'm not trying to make this a five-star hotel or anything. But we weren't moved to P.C. because we did something wrong. They're supposed to be protecting me. Being in the protecting room doesn't mean you kill me slowly. Ten hours a day in this room with those conditions-we've lost our lives here. We don't go to church or gym. It's crazy. This is like a death penalty prison. It's not like protection.140

Boys' Segregation

Boys placed in administrative segregation are housed in M Section. Similar to the protective custody section, this section has the same long tiers of single cells and the same dark and depressing atmosphere. Throughout the section, paint is crumbling from the walls. In an effort to overcome the grafitti and grime, many juveniles had put pictures up on the walls of their cells. In general, the section hadthe depressing look of a place in which completely institutionalized individuals knew that they would be spending nearly all of their time.

On the day of our May 1999 visit there were twenty-two juveniles in M Section. No effort was made to place juveniles in a separate wing-their cells were interspersed with those of adult inmates, in violation of international law.141

Detainees may be placed on M Section if a disciplinary hearing officer gives them a sanction of a period of administrative segregation after a hearing, if they are awaiting transfer to a state prison after being sentenced to a period of imprisonment of fifteen years or more, or if the warden decides they pose a security risk. Inmates on administrative segregation are allowed two ten-minute showers each week and three one-hour periods of dayroom "recreation" per week. According to James L. Drewery, security officer at the Baltimore City Detention Center, inmates may use the recreation time to watch television or make telephone calls.142

Many inmates on M Section are given the additional sanction of "loss of privileges" (LOP), meaning that they are not allowed telephone calls, visits, or commissary privileges for a period that may last the entire time they are placed on administrative segregation. In addition, the juveniles we interviewed told us consistently that they did not receive any recreation periods while they were on LOP.

Two isolation cells are located at the end of the tier. Solid heavy metal sheets placed over the bars shut off virtually all light for anyone inside. Jail officials told us that these cells are used for inmates who have assaulted guards. According to the officers on duty in the section, the inmates housed in these cells receive showers and attorney visits only; they do not receive phone calls, general visits, or any other time outside of their cells. When we inspected the similar isolation cells in L Section, Mr. Drewery told us that no juveniles were held in the cells in that section. No such restriction appears to exist in M Section, however. In February 1999, we interviewed one youth who was housed in one of the isolation cells, albeit at his own request: he told a Human Rights Watch researcher that he had asked to be moved to the isolation cell because the adult inmates in nearby cells continually harassed him by throwing urine and excrement into the cell he originally occupied.143

Girls' Segregation

Girls placed in administrative segregation are housed in the women's segregation area, although they do not share cells with women detainees. The section has sixteen cells, each with a single bunk at the back and a combined sink and toilet unit at the front. Each cell has a heavy metal door with small plexiglass windows and a narrow slot for food trays, the only source of fresh air for those inside. The cells had no exterior windows.

When we inspected the showers, we found that one of the two stalls was not functioning and was instead used as a storage area for the cleaning supplies. The other shower was in a vile state, its moldy, torn shower curtain dangling from several hooks. The concrete around the faucets had crumbled away, exposing the piping underneath; we observed cockroaches and other vermin crawling in the cracks.

The guard on duty at the section informed us that detainees on the section are only allowed attorney visits and receive no commissary privileges. Asked how much time each detainee was able to spend outside her cell, the guard replied, "They're outside enough to take a shower and clean their rooms, maybe fifteen to twenty minutes in total. It's two showers a week."144 Those on "supermax" status-meaning that they spend their entire period of pretrial detention on this section-are allowed outside their cells for a total of one hour each day. The officer told us that supermax detainees may receive visits and make telephone calls. When we pointed out that there was no telephone in the section, our escort explained that inmates could place phone calls through the chaplain's office.

Other Housing Areas

Juveniles are occasionally placed in the psychiatric section, the medical section, and the hospital. In addition, pregnant girls may be placed in the maternity dorm, where a girl was housed as recently as April 1999.

Frederick County Detention Center

With a total inmate population of 339 inmates, the Frederick County Detention Center housed five children at the time of our visit in July 1998. "Our juvenile population is a minimal problem for us," Green said, estimating that the facility took in fewer than fifteen children each year. He told us that the jail has housed children as young as fourteen.145

As appears to be the practice in many local detention center with small juvenile populations, Frederick County does not separate children from adult inmates, in violation of international standards.

The facility is modern and clean. The general population areas have two-person cells with an area of approximately seventy square feet and four-person cells with an area of about 120 square feet. The cells are each equipped with a toilet, a sink with hot and cold water taps, and a mirror. All have some natural lighting.

The facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, the Commission for Law Enforcement Accreditation, and, as required by state law, the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards. "We're one of thirteen sheriff's offices in the United States to have all possible accreditations," Green noted.146

Montgomery County Detention Center

With an average total inmate population of 740, including fifty-eight women, the Montgomery County Detention Center had approximately forty juveniles when we visited in July 1998. At the time of our visit, the youngest inmate was seventeen years old; detention center officials noted that they have had juveniles as young as fourteen in the detention center.

Juveniles are routinely housed in general population areas with adult inmates, although approximately half the juvenile population is placed in the detention center's youthful offender unit. In most living areas, cells are arranged in a circle around a central dayroom. Each of the cells in these areas has two bunks, a toilet, a sink, and a window that allows natural light to enter. In many of the general population units, inmates were out of their cells in the dayroom as we toured the units.

Male inmates under twenty-one years of age are eligible for placement in the youthful offender program if, among other requirements, they are free of infractions for the thirty days prior to entry into the program and have no close relative or codefendant already in the program.147 This unit has a large dayroom with bright posters on the walls; an educational program was going on as we entered the area.

In sharp contrast to the generally adequate conditions in most of the physical plant, the protective custody unit, built in 1961, is dark and oppressive. The little natural lighting in the section comes from narrow windows in the passage outside the cells. The cells themselves are narrow and grimy, fronted by grey floor-to-ceiling bars. The dayroom is bare except for a few tables and benches bolted to the floor. Lacking virtually any visual stimulation, the unit is a thoroughly depressing place.

The jail is accredited by the American Correctional Association, and officials told us that the facility was found to be 97.2 percent in compliance with all standards when it was evaluated in June 1998. Explaining the facility's failure to achieve full compliance, an official told us, "We didn't achieve 100 percent compliance mostly for construction reasons. We're double-celling, so the number of square feet in each cell is less than ACA standards call for, and there's fewer showers per inmate than ACA standards say there should be. That's all the result of double celling. Another factor is the problem we have with our isolation area. You need to have direct lighting from the cells to the outside, but we have this old construction. These are all problems with the physical plant and the numbers we have here."148

Prince George's County Correctional Center

Of the facilities we visited, the Prince George's County Correctional Center is second in size only to Baltimore's city jail. In July 1998, the jail housed 1,350 inmates, including twenty-one children, some as young as fourteen.

Recently reaccredited by the American Correctional Association, the jail was not in complete compliance with the ACA's nonmandatory standards. "Overcrowding," Stanton explained succinctly. "We've got 200 more people than actual rooms. The rated capacity here is 1,140 or 1,150."149

Children in the Prince George's County facility are housed in a designated juvenile housing section. Each of the cells in the juvenile section has two bunks, a toilet, sink, mirror, desk, and chair. We saw a television set, a few games, and a number of books in the dayroom.

Washington County Detention Center

Washington County's detention center has an average daily population of 375, approximately 90 percent male. There were eighteen juveniles in detentionon the day of our visit in July 1998, a number that the warden described as higher than average. Juveniles are routinely commingled with adults.

Originally built to house 140, the jail has increased its capacity by placing multiple bunks in the male general population cells-as many as five bunks in some cells-and by constructing new wings. Most of the male housing sections, known as "pods," have outdoor recreation areas adjacent to the dayrooms; inmates reported that they spent much of their day out of their cells, alleviating some of the discomfort of multiple bunking. Cells in the newest areas of the jail are equipped with desks, and each has a toilet, sink, and a mirror with a shelf above the sink. The newer cells have windows which the inmates can open to allow a measure of fresh air to enter.

At the time of our July 1998 visit, the jail was in the process of renovating a minimum security area in order to improve housing conditions for the female inmates. A guard explained that the women's housing unit was designed to hold thirty detainees; in recent years, the jail has had to find housing for as many as sixty or seventy. "We've realized that we cannot continue to pack these women upstairs like sardines," the guard told us.150

Separation from Adults

We found that children were commingled with adults to some degree in all of the detention centers we visited, in clear violation of international law.151 In the smaller jails, no effort was made to house children apart from adult inmates; in many cases, juveniles shared cells with adults in these jails. In the larger facilities, all of which had separate housing areas for the juveniles in the general population, we nevertheless found that children placed on administrative segregation were routinely housed in close proximity to adults. In addition, we found that in nearly all facilities juveniles are commingled with adults when placed in protective custody or in medical and psychiatric areas.

In Baltimore, children housed in the general population and protective custody sections were generally kept separate from adult inmates. We found that this was not true in the segregation, medical, and psychiatric sections of the jail. "It's juveniles throughout," said an officer assigned to the segregation section, meaning that juveniles were interspersed with adults throughout the section. He gave one of our researchers a list of the numbered cells which housed juveniles,allowing us to verify that youth were housed alongside adults. We did not find any instances of children sharing cells with adults, however.

We found the same to be true of Baltimore's psychiatric section. Although Commissioner Flanagan told us, "We have never used E Section for juveniles,"152 a Human Rights Watch representative interviewed a child in that section several hours later. Indeed, a review of the jail's daily population records from 1995 to 1999 revealed that juveniles were routinely housed with adults in the section, albeit in small numbers.

Similarly, jail officials accompanying us through the Women's Detention Center in Baltimore initially told us that girls were never housed in the women's segregation section, and indeed none were housed in the section on the day of our visit. Several months prior to our May 1999 visit, however, a Human Rights Watch researcher interviewed a girl who said that she was one of four juveniles placed in the women's segregation section.153 The officer on duty in the women's segregation section at the time of our visit confirmed that the section had routinely housed juvenile inmates. "A couple of months ago I had five at once, I think it was February," she said. Flipping through her log book, she confirmed that six juveniles had been placed in the women's segregation section in February 1999, four for twenty-day periods and two for thirty days each.154

Furthermore, girls who are pregnant may be housed with adults in the Women's Detention Center maternity dormitory. "We have had one juvenile in here," a guard told us. "It required the approval of the commissioner and the warden. That was about a month ago. She was here with the adults, but she could not rec [take recreation] with the adults, only with the other juveniles."155

In Montgomery County, approximately twenty juveniles were housed in general population units, sometimes sharing cells with adults. Thomas C. spent two weeks in a Montgomery County general population unit when he first arrived at the age of sixteen. He reported that he was housed with inmates of all ages, sixteen to sixty. "The only reason I felt comfortable was because my co-defendant was in the same dorm." David L., sixteen, had been in four general population wings at the time of our interview. In one wing, he found out that some of the older inmates were planning to "jump" him; the shift counselor moved him to a different wing after his cellmate wrote a letter to the unit guards. Alex S., age sixteen, agreed that the Montgomery County general population unit where he washeld for three weeks was "kind of an experience," because of the wide range in ages, but told us that he never had a problem with the adult inmates.156

Although the director of the Prince George's County Correctional Center told us, "We separate the juveniles by sight and sound even though they're waived to adult status,"157 we found that strict separation was not always enforced. When we toured the juvenile housing area, we learned that up to forty adults were housed at times on bunks in the juvenile section's dayroom. Detention center officials explained that this arrangement was occasionally required because of the level of overcrowding at the facility. When adults are bunked in the juvenile dayroom, they must lie on their bunks without talking during the times when the children use the dayroom; in turn, the juveniles are locked in their cells during times that the adults are allowed to use the dayroom.

In the smaller jails we visited, we found that it was the norm to commingle juveniles and adults. Frederick County does not separate juveniles from adults as a matter of routine, although the detention center's director noted that individual juveniles will be moved out of the general population if they are thought to be at risk.158 Similarly, we found that juveniles are routinely commingled with adults in the Washington County Detention Center. "The officers may attempt to separate the juveniles from the adults, but it's not done as a matter of procedure. They're treated as adults," explained Washington County's warden.159

Light, Ventilation, and Temperature

Most of the facilities we visited house juveniles (and all other inmates) in cells with adequate lighting, including direct access to natural light, consistent with international standards.160 In all housing areas of the Baltimore City Detention Center and in the protective custody section of the Montgomery County Detention Center, however, inmates have no windows in their cells. For many, the only sources of natural light are the windows across the hall from their cells, although we saw a good many windows that were obscured by grime, constructed of opaque materials, or covered altogether. Some isolation cells in Baltimore's detentioncenter were almost entirely covered by metal sheets so that almost no natural light reached the cells. There are no outside windows whatsoever in the girls' protective custody and segregation areas in the Baltimore City Detention Center.

We repeatedly heard complaints about ventilation and temperature from children held at the Baltimore City Detention Center. "It's hot right now," said Evan M., held in Baltimore. "But in the winter it's always cold. We have blankets but it's still cold because the windows are busted out." Carl A. agreed. "It's hot. Too hot," he said. "Sometimes they give fans to whoever's been here the longest, but there are only two fans."161 Marlow P., another Baltimore detainee, explained, "How it's feeling outside is how it's feeling here."162


Children at all facilities we visited were required to wear institutional uniforms. Most of the facilities we visited issued children grey, green, or orange jumpsuits. In Baltimore, children were given surplus camouflage army issue; adult inmates at the facility were not required to wear uniforms.

While the practice of requiring detainees to wear uniforms is not uncommon in many adult pretrial detention facilities in the United States, it is not the rule in the overwhelming majority of juvenile facilties across the country. Indeed, international standards call upon institutions to allow juveniles and pretrial detainees to wear their own clothing.163

We observed that the youth in the Baltimore City Detention Center could wear their personal clothing in their cells; according to corrections officials, children are only required to wear the uniforms outside their cells. Youth seemed to dislike the uniforms, probably in part because they are uncomfortably warm, and we did not see any wearing the uniforms inside their cells. The jail is not air conditioned and was already very warm when we visited in May 1999, particularly on the upper tiers. The heavy uniforms appeared to be unsuitable for the hot summer months from June through August, in contravention of internationalstandards that "[d]etention facilities should ensure that each juvenile has person clothing suitable to the climate."164

Children at other jails also commented that they preferred to wear their own clothing. Bruce W., held in Montgomery County, remarked, "A lot of us order sweats, t-shirts, boxers, and stuff. Mostly we don't wear our greys [the color of the uniform in Montgomery's Youthful Offender Unit], only during groups. When we're on our own time, we wear our own clothes."165

James L. Drewery, Baltimore's security chief, told us that children could either send their personal clothing to the laundry or give it to their families to get it washed. Recently, however, many children have had difficulty getting clothing to and from family members because their section has been on lockdown for extended periods of time since November 1998. Brad D., a seventeen-year-old who entered the jail in April 1999 during a time when the section was locked down, told us that he went two weeks without a change of underwear because his mother had not been able to bring him clean clothes until several days before our May visit:

I had to wear the same drawers two weeks straight. They didn't let my mother drop off clean drawers or socks for me. It don't make no sense. I don't know why they didn't let her bring them, I guess because we on lockdown. She visited me last Saturday and gave me three pairs of boxers and three pairs of socks. That the first time she was able to visit since I been here.166

When asked how they had their clothes cleaned, several children said that they would not get their clothes back if they sent them to the laundry. Consequently, they wash their clothing in the toilet in their room with liquid hand soap.

We heard a number of complaints from children held at the Baltimore City Detention Center that their court clothes, stored in lockers at the entrance to each section, were often dirty when they were retrieved in preparation for court dates. "They only let us have one court outfit," Jerome T. said. "They put them in these unsanitary lockers. Mice be pissing on your clothes."167

Jail staff across Maryland cited security as the reason for requiring juveniles to wear uniforms. Since youth in most juvenile facilities wear ordinary clothingsuch as t-shirts and shorts or pants, there is a real question whether there is an actual security justification for the uniforms. In the absence of actual incidents of violence directly related to clothing or a similar justification, the validity of requiring youth to wear stigmatizing, institutionalizing, and often uncomfortable clothing is questionable.168 In Baltimore, the fact that adult inmates are not required to wear such uniforms casts further doubt on the security rationale advanced by jail officials.


With the notable exception of the Baltimore City Detention Center, the bedding provided in the jails we visited appeared to be in compliance with international standards requiring that each child "be provided with separate and sufficient bedding, which should be clean when issued, kept in good order, and changed often enough to ensure cleanliness."169 Many children in Baltimore complained to us that their mattresses were dirty, thin, and inadequate. Showing us grimy foam pads or filthy cloth pallets with little padding, they clearly felt humiliated to be forced to sleep on the mattresses they were issued.

We also heard several complaints that the Baltimore detention center did not provide clean sheets frequently enough. Although jail staff told us that sheets were laundered every week, we heard from some children that their sheets were washed every two weeks or even less frequently.

A number of juveniles in the city detention center told us that they had blankets stolen from their cells. For example, Josh S., a seventeen-year-old held in L Section, told us that when he returned from court the previous week, he discovered that not only his blanket but also his mattress was gone. When he asked for a new mattress, he was given an old cloth ticking covered with plastic.170 Particularly during the winter months, the theft of blankets may be due in part to the lack of adequate heating and the fact that many window panes are broken during the hot summer months and never repaired.


Most of the jails visited by Human Rights Watch were reasonably clean and offered inmates daily access to showers. Many of the children expressed satisfaction to us when this subject came up. "They let you shower every night,"Bruce W. said of Montgomery County's Youthful Offender Unit. "It's the policy here. That's one of the good rules-you have to practice good hygiene." William M. added, "You can shower any time during the day except when they have the count. It's required at least once a day." He stated that those in the unit always had the opportunity to shower after the gym or outside recreation.171

Again, the notable exception was the Baltimore City Detention Center. Our representatives saw cockroaches crawling across the floor on the day of our visit, and we heard repeated complaints that the jail was infested with mice and other vermin. "There's roaches. Sometimes you see rats running up around the lights," Evan M. told us. Carl A. echoed these complaints, reporting, "I see cockroaches and mice every day."172 A number of detainees told us that when they were given their court clothes, which were stored in lockers at the front of each section, they found that their clothing was stained and covered with mouse droppings.

While such problems are due in part to the age of the Baltimore detention center's physical plant, they are compounded by an evident lack of maintenance. In each section, we saw windows covered with plywood, plexiglass, and plastic sheeting; many window panes had been smashed out and simply not replaced. Cells were grimy; detainees pointed out brown stains and residue that had been on the walls since they arrived.

"How I gonna keep my cell clean?" asked an adult detainee in the segregation section. "I don't have a broom. They tell us to clean but they don't give us stuff to clean with." In an effort to keep his cell as tidy as possible, he finally asked an detainee worker to give him some scouring powder and a rag. Another detainee reported that he used an old toothbrush and water from his sink to scrub down his walls and floor.173

Except when they were on lockdown, children held in Baltimore's general juvenile population section reported that they were given a chance to take a shower every day or at least every other day. In some sections, however, many of the shower nozzles were broken; Alex S., interviewed in July 1998, reported that four of the seven showers in his section were not working. Carl A. told us, "You can shower as long as you want to until the next side gets the showers. That's thirty minutes. But there's no showers if we get locked down."174

Because of the frequency and length of lockdowns imposed at the jail after November 1998, we heard very different accounts from children in L Sectioninterviewed after that date. Paul G., interviewed in February 1999, said, "The top tier hasn't been in the shower since Sunday night," three nights before. "We're supposed to shower every day. The jail was on MSC [master security check] last night, I don't know why, so we didn't get a shower. We didn't get no showers on Monday either. They didn't tell us why."175

Those placed in segregation are permitted only two ten-minute showers each week. Jackson F., held in segregation for a week during the summer, told Human Rights Watch, "The cell is so hot all you think about is a shower. You deal with it by taking a `birdbath.' That's where you wash from the sink in your cell. You do that every day, all day long, wash up every three hours or so."176

Baltimore's restrictions on showers run counter to the National Commission on Correctional Health Care standard, which calls for daily opportunity to bathe.177

All of the jails we visited ensured that indigent inmates received basic toiletries. Indeed, the Baltimore City Detention Center is required under the terms of the 1993 revised consent decree to provide indigent inmates with toothpaste, a toothbrush, clean clothing, and shaving supplies.178 The children with whom we spoke confirmed that indigent inmates received a "welfare kit" containing these items.

We heard one further complaint regarding hygiene from virtually all of the children we interviewed at the Baltimore City Detention Center after November 1998, when the detention center began to be locked down on a regular basis. During lockdown periods, inmates are usually not permitted to order items from the commissary except for the supplies they would receive if they were indigent. Children complained that this practice prevented them from obtaining items they considered necessary, such as skin lotion and oil for their hair. Two told us that they felt that they had developed skin conditions as a result. Even if there were some valid penological reason for restricting commissary purchases during lockdown periods-and it is not clear that such a restriction serves any purpose other than punishment-there is no reason why children should be prohibited from purchasing basic toiletries with their own money. Skin lotion and hair oil can readily be added to the list of items that may be purchased from the commissaryitems during lockdown; the jail should immediately remove its restrictions on these items.


Seems like we don't eat enough here. I get three trays a day, but the hours are so awkward, the portions so small, it's not enough. After 4:00, you hungry, with no snack or nothing. Being as you in jail, you don't expect too much, but you expect them to keep you full. I've lost twelve pounds since I got here-my mother noticed it. It's not because I'm not eating. I don't miss a meal. It's not enough food.

-Michael T., detained for six months in Prince George's County while awaiting trial

"The most frequent complaint on food is quantity-they want more," a Baltimore City Detention Center official told Human Rights Watch at a meeting.179 That statement proved to be true for all of the facilities we visited. While a number of children characterized the quality of the food they received as "poor" or complained that "some days it's just not cooked," Human Rights Watch researchers heard complaints about the size of meal portions with disturbing frequency.

At every facility where we conducted interviews, children told us that their meals left them feeling hungry. Carl A., in Baltimore, commented, "It's not enough food. We need at least another tray."180 Peter B., detained in Washington County, told us, "I've been in juvenile. You get more there. They have to give you so many calories. It's not enough here."181 "No, you don't get a lot to eat here," Bruce W. told us during an interview at the Montgomery County Detention Center.182 Alex S., in Baltimore, said, "It's not enough food. I'd want a whole bunch more than I get now."183 Paul G., another Baltimore detainee, replied to our question about the food by stating, "Not enough for me. Not enough at all meals, really."184

Children at the Prince George's County Correctional Center told us that early meal hours were the reason that they were often hungry in the evenings. They receive breakfast at 4:00 a.m., lunch at about 10:00 a.m., and dinner by 5:00p.m.185 "You get pretty hungry in between," Nestor S. told us, "and what they bring is not enough. No seconds." Other children held in Prince George's County echoed these concerns. "It's not enough food," said Diane S., who told us that she had been given a tray with raw meat once. "It don't fill us up, but we get to order from the commissary," said Jermaine C. When asked what he would change about the food, Brian W. immediately replied, "Bigger portions."186

At all institutions we visited, children reported that most inmates were not allowed to have seconds. "You get that one tray," Jenile L. said of Prince George's County. Michael T., also in Prince George's County, reported that those who worked on kitchen detail did receive seconds, a privilege that was denied to the general population.187

In the absence of sufficient food during regular meals, children supplement their meals with food purchased from the commissary. "I eat my commissary. It's not really enough, but you don't have no choice," Jenile L. told us. "I order commissary-noodles and things, but it's a lot less than I need. I want a lot more," said Evan M., held in the Baltimore City Detention Center.

In fact, many children reported that commissary food formed an essential part of their diet. Ron P., a Washington County inmate, said the amount of food he was able to eat was "only enough if you buy commissary. What they give you, they don't give you hardly anything."188 William M., in Montgomery County, told us that meal portions were only "enough because we order from the canteen."189 Asked what kinds of food he bought to supplement the regular meals, Paul G. recited a list that included noodles, potato chips, pretzels, peanuts, candy, and cookies.190

Most of the children interviewed at the Baltimore City Detention Center mentioned that they bought dried noodles, which, according to the cooking directions, are made by adding boiling water. "What's amazing to me is that they sell this food that you need hot water to prepare," recounted a former detainee. Some children used hot water directly from the tap in a utility closet, when they are able to have a guard open it for them. Others described elaborate means by which they actually cooked the food in their cells: After making a "doughnut" by tightly wrapping up toilet paper or strips torn off a sheet, inmates light it by making a spark from a wall socket and then use the flame to boil water for the noodles. "You take a tissue and stick a piece of lead on the end," explained Jackson F.. "But you can't hold it to the socket too long or you short out the circuit. If that happens, you get in trouble with the guys with TVs-they get mad at you because they can't watch their TVs."191

Those who can't afford commissary items go hungry unless they are able to get commissary items from others. "If somebody don't eat something, you can give them a cup of soup or chips from the commissary, or you trade the things you don't eat," explained Sam H., in the Washington County Detention Center.192 Often, children told us, they lose their commissary items to theft or coercion. "Some folks here, I've never seen order commissary," Michael T. observed, "but then I see them with commissary stuff."193

The U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty provide that youth in detention must receive food at normal meal times and of a quality and quantity to satisfy the standards of health and hygiene.194 Youthcorrections specialists concur that children need more food than adults do. "Young people require at least 3,000 calories per day, including frequent opportunities to eat, both meals and snacks," writes Barry Glick, a corrections consultant and former associate deputy director for local services with the New York State Division for Youth.195 The National Commission on Correctional Health Care estimate is even higher-up to 4,000 calories per day or more for teenagers who are still growing or very active.196

Our impression that officials at adult jails did not understand the dietary needs of their juvenile inmates was confirmed when an official at the Baltimore City Detention Center told us during a meeting of detention center staff that the facility served its inmates "2,200 to 2,800 calories per day, depending on the population. The NCCH standard is at 1,800; others are 2,000 calories. We're well within the dietary requirements. That's not unusual in any correctional setting." Asked about children in detention, he replied, "The juveniles would get that higher caloric intake because of their needs."197 However, he was not able to explain how the meals served to juveniles differed from those offered to adults. Indeed, the meals we saw served to juveniles appeared to be identical to those offered to adults-the portions served to juveniles appeared to consist of the same items, to be the same size, and served on trays that were not marked to distinguish them from the meals offered to adult inmates.

125 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

126 Human Rights Watch interview with LaMont Flanagan, commissioner, Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore, Maryland, May 11, 1999.

127 Human Rights Watch interview with LaMont Flanagan, Commissioner, Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore, Maryland, May 11, 1999.

128 Ibid.

129 Figures are taken from tabular data provided by the Maryland Division of Pretrial Detention and Services to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, January through October 1996.

130 See 1993 Revised Consolidated Decree, Duvall v. Schaefer, Civil Action No. K-76-1255 (D. Md. July 9, 1993), Appendix B., pp. B-1 and B-2.

131 Human Rights Watch interview with James L. Drewery, security chief, Baltimore City Detention Center, Baltimore, Maryland, May 11, 1999.

132 On average, the section held approximately sixty-seven juveniles per day between January and September 1998. On February 1, 1999, the section housed sixty-eight juveniles. Maryland Department of Public Safety, Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, Housing Section Reports, January-September 1998, and February 1, 1999.

133 According to Baltimore City Detention Center housing reports, the section housed 119 juveniles on January 31, 1996; 114 on November 20, 1996; 100 juveniles on June 18, 1997; and 105 on August 1, 1997. Maryland Department of Public Safety, Division of PretrialDetention and Services, Housing Section Reports, January 1996-August 1997.

134 For example, Assistant Attorney General Glenn Marrow frequently used this phrase to characterize all juvenile housing areas, repeating it when he accompanied our researchers on a tour of the Women's Detention Center.

135 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

136 1993 Revised Consolidated Decree, Appendix B, p. B-3.

137 Human Rights Watch interview with LaMont Flanagan, September 23, 1998.

138 Human Rights Watch interviews, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

139 Ibid.

140 Ibid.

141 See ICCPR, Article 10(2)(b); Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37(c); U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, Article 13.4.

142 Human Rights Watch interview with James L. Drewery, May 11, 1999.

143 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, February 9, 1999.

144 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

145 Human Rights Watch interview with Rob Green, warden, Frederick County Detention Center, Frederick, Maryland, July 21, 1998.

146 Ibid.

147 Handbook for the Youthful Offender Unit of the Montgomery County Detention Center (Rockville, Maryland: Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, 1998), p. 5.

148 Human Rights Watch interview, Montgomery County Detention Center, July 30, 1998.

149 Human Rights Watch interview with Barry L. Stanton, director, Prince George's County Department of Corrections, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, July 23, 1998.

150 Human Rights Watch interview, Washington County Detention Center, July 22, 1998.

151 See ICCPR, Article 10(2)(b); Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37(c). See also U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, Article 13.4; U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles, Article 29.

152 Human Rights Watch interview with LaMont Flanagan, May 11, 1998.

153 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, February 10, 1999.

154 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

155 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

156 Human Rights Watch interviews, Montgomery County Detention Center, July 30, 1998.

157 Human Rights Watch interview with Barry L. Stanton, July 23, 1998.

158 Human Rights Watch interview with Rob Green, July 21, 1998.

159 Human Rights Watch interview with M. Van Evans, warden, Washington County Detention Center, Hagerstown, Maryland, July 22, 1998.

160 Article 11 of the Standard Minimum Rules calls, "[i]n all places where prisoners are required live or work," for windows "large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light."

161 Human Rights Watch interviews, Baltimore City Detention Center, July 17, 1998.

162 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

163 Article 36 of the U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles states: "To the extent possible juveniles should have the right to use their own clothing." Similarly, international standards emphasize that pretrial detainees, who benefit from the presumption of innocence, "shall be allowed to wear [their] own clothing if it is clean and suitable." U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Article 88(1).

164 U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles, Article 36.

165 Human Rights Watch interview, Montgomery County Detention Center, July 30, 1998.

166 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

167 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

168 See U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles, Article 36 (noting that clothing "should in no manner be degrading or humiliating").

169 Ibid., Article 33.

170 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

171 Human Rights Watch interviews, Montgomery County Detention Center, July 30, 1998.

172 Human Rights Watch interviews, Baltimore City Detention Center, July 17, 1998.

173 Human Rights Watch interviews, Baltimore City Detention Center, May 11, 1999.

174 Human Rights Watch interviews, Baltimore City Detention Center, July 17, 1998.

175 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, February 10, 1999.

176 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore, Maryland, March 9, 1999.

177 National Commission on Correctional Health Care, Standards for Health Services in Jails (Chicago: NCCHC, 1996), p. 59.

178 See also Duvall v. Shaefer, Civil Action No. K-76-1255, 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18298, *20 (D. Md. Aug. 30, 1988).

179 Human Rights Watch interview with LaMont Flanagan, September 23, 1998.

180 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, July 17, 1998.

181 Human Rights Watch interviews, Washington County Detention Center, July 22, 1998.

182 Human Rights Watch interview, Montgomery County Detention Center, July 30, 1998.

183 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, July 17, 1998.

184 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, February 10, 1999.

185 Maryland standards require that meals be "ample in portion" and "served at reasonable intervals." The standards call for "[t]hree distinct meals during each 24-hour period, two of which ought to be hot," and "served to ensure that an interval of not more than 14 hours is maintained between the evening meals and breakfast." Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards, Standards, Compliance Criteria, and Compliance Explanations for Adult Detention Centers, p. 38 (1991). Accord American Correctional Association, Standards for Adult Local Detention Facilities, 3d ed., p. 84 (Latham, Maryland: ACA, 1991) (calling for "at least three meals (including two hot meals) . . . provided at regular meal times during each 24-hour period, with no more than 14 hours between the evening meal and breakfast").

186 Human Rights Watch interviews, P.G. County Correctional Center, July 23, 1998.

187 Human Rights Watch interviews, P.G. County Correctional Center, July 23, 1998.

188 Human Rights Watch interview, Washington County Detention Center, July 22, 1998.

189 Human Rights Watch interview, Montgomery County Detention Center, July 30, 1998.

190 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, February 10, 1999.

191 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore, Maryland, April 9, 1999.

192 Human Rights Watch interview, Washington County Detention Center, July 22, 1998.

193 Human Rights Watch interview, P.G. County Correctional Center, July 23, 1998.

194 U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles, Article 37. The federal district court in Maryland has noted that "[b]ad quality of prison food and the lack of appropriate dietary balance can add up to a level of constitutional deficiency." Collins v. Schoonfield, 344 F. Supp. 257, 278 (D. Md. 1972) (citing Landman v. Royster, 333 F. Supp. 621, 647 (E.D. Va. 1971); Holt v. Sarver, 309 F. Supp. 362 (E.D. Ark. 1970)). Furthermore, the Baltimore City Detention Center's failure to provide adequate meals is a violation of 1993 consent decree, which requires that "[e]ach inmate shall have the opportunity to have three (3) appropriate meals daily, served in a palatable manner. The diet shall consist of food of adequate nutritional value." 1993 Revised Consolidated Decree, p. 17. The 1988 decree specified that meals would include "(1) fruit juice or fresh fruit on a daily basis; and (2) fresh milk (offered as a beverage) at least three (3) meals weekly," 1988 Revised Consolidated Decree, 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18298, *20-21, but that requirement was not carried over to the 1993 version.

195 Barry Glick, "Kids in Adult Correctional Systems," Corrections Today, August 1998, p. 99.

196 National Commission on Correctional Health Care, Standards for Health Services in Juvenile Detention and Confinement Facilities, Appendix E, p. 116 (Chicago: National Commission on Correctional Health Care, 1995). The juvenile health standards note that "[t]he amounts and types of foods suggested . . . will satisfy the needs of most teenagers. However, those who are still growing or are very active will require increased portion sizes, primarily of grain and milk products, as well as fruits and vegetables." Ibid.

The commission's standards for adult jails do not directly address the dietary needs of adolescents, but they call for "an adequate diet supplied to all inmates that incorporates the principles expressed in the United States Department of Agriculture/Department of Health and Human Services (USDA/DHHS) Food Guide Pyramid meeting the current recommended Dietary Allowances for appropriate age groups." National Commission on Correctional Health Care, Standards for Health Services in Jails, p.57 (Chicago: National Commission on Correctional Health Care, 1996) (emphasis added).

197 Human Rights Watch interview, Baltimore City Detention Center, September 23, 1998.

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