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© 2000 (original copyright); © 2006 (most recent copyright) National Center for Juvenile Justice

Maryland state profile
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Updated: December 12, 2007
Last Comprehensive Update: December 12, 2007

Delinquency Services Summary
Centralized State: The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) administers detention, delinquency intake, predisposition investigation, probation, correctional, and aftercare services.
To facilitate the delivery of services, the state is divided into five geographic areas. An area usually covers several counties and is overseen by an Area Director. Supervisors manage DJS offices in each county (often, but not always, located in courthouses) and answer to the Area Director. Juvenile counselors in regional offices provide intake, probation, and aftercare supervision.

Court(s) with Delinquency Jurisdiction
Circuit Courts exercise jurisdiction over delinquency proceedings. A circuit court is located in each county and in Baltimore City. Circuit courts are general jurisdiction trial courts. For more information, visit the Maryland Judiciary web site.


The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services has embarked on major juvenile justice reforms to impact service delivery to youth offenders in both community-based and residential settings. The department has established the goals of treating Maryland's youth in Maryland, sustaining reforms by implementing best practices to improve conditions of confinement in all juvenile facilities and improving outcomes for youth, their families and communities. The department is engaging stakeholders to maximize use of alternative community resources, expand evidence-based services and to implement best practices to further improve conditions of confinement.

MD participates in Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI). JDAI is first and foremost dedicated to keeping communities safe. The goal is to ensure that only those youth who pose a community safety risk or are at risk of failing to appear for their next court appearance are detained in our detention facilities. JDAI helps set up detention alternatives for youth who are not appropriate for secure detention. JDAI works to strengthen juvenile justice systems, make communities safer, help youth and save tax dollars. The department has implemented a series of enhanced intake and assessment practices aimed at providing an accurate assessment of youth to aid the staffing process and influence decisions about ongoing care, treatment and placement. To that end, the department has begun the implementation of CASII and has started implementation, validation and localization of the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) as part of the ongoing JDAI efforts.

With legislative support, the department has increased salaries for direct care workers by approximately 12%, and continues to aggressively recruit the most qualified applicants. Considering past recommendations, the department is committed to develop capital projects for smaller, regional residential facilities. The department has closed long-term and committed programs at The Hickey School and downsized the population at the Cheltenham Youth Facility. Most recently, DJS opened the Victor Cullen Center, a 48-bed treatment facility in Frederick County, and two 24-bed regional detention facilities in the Western and Eastern regions of the State. State-certified teachers with well-developed academic programs are currently providing education at the Baltimaore City Juvenile Center, the Lower Eastern Shore Children's Center and the educational program for detention youth remaining at Hickey. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) will oversee all juvenile residential educational programs by 2012.

To address ongoing interest in decentralization of departmental functions, the department has established an internal Regionalization committee to review the outcomes of the Regionalization pilot in Western Maryland. The Regionalization committee will make recommendations on what resources are needed to implement regionalization statewide.

The department has established an Office of Quality Assurance and Accountability (QAA) to increase internal improvements; further expand monitoring activites; and implement evidence based programs with positive outcomes for juvenile offenders such as Multi-systemic Therapy (MST), Functional Family Therapy (FFT), and Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC). The Disproportionate Minority Confinement (DMC) Coordinator position is housed in QAA at DJS. Stakeholders in the five largest jurisdictions are studying decision points with the help of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Other immediate reforms include enhancing family involvement in the planning and treatment of youth by establishing the new Office of Community and Family Partnerships.

To improve inter-agency coordination, the department is currently facilitating a Joint Startegic Plan between Maryland's child serving agencies (which include DJS, Department of Human Resources (DHR), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)). The final report will be available in July '08. Over the coming months, the department looks forward to developing a more comprehensive, long-range strategic plan for the next three years. On February 1, 2008, the department will submit a three year strategic plan that will define the objectives, strategies, goals, and outcomes the department expects to achieve for fiscal years 2009 through 2011.

Budget: During the last legislative session DJS submitted to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly a ten-year Facilities Master Plan - the roadmap for "The Maryland Model" - to correct longstanding deficiencies and poor conditions in DJS facilities.

DJS proposed an 18.1% (231.8 million) increase in the FY07 budget. The House and Senate cut $1.9 million from that request.

State Operated Facilities

DJS has evolved from a system that primarily provided custodial care to a comprehensive service delivery system which provides for a range of programs and services designed to address the needs of the diverse population served. DJS utilizes a continuum of services and treatment for juveniles who have broken the law. Not all young people, however, can be treated effectively in a community-based program.

The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) Residential Services Division oversees the following juvenile facilities: J. DeWeese Carter Center; Cheltenham Youth Facility; Lower Eastern Shore Children's Center; Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center; Thomas J. S. Waxter Children's Center; Western Maryland Children's Center; the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center (BCJJC), the Charles H. Hickey, Jr. School, Victor Cullen and the Youth Centers comprised of four separate residential facilities in Western Maryland. Youth are held in detention when they are determined to be at risk to public safety to ensure their presence at court hearings. Youth are held in detention pending adjudication or disposition. Juveniles cannot be sentenced to secure detention.

At detention intake, DJS staff administers a needs screening tool to briefly review possible needs. It is not meant to diagnose specific problems, but rather to assess the immediate needs of these youth in areas of functioning (e.g., education, mental, and substance abuse). Depending upon the results, youth may be referred for clinical/educational/vocational evaluations to be conducted in conjunction with a program of treament/services. Maryland House Bill 692 mandates assessments for juveniles with mental health or substance abuse problems or who are mentall retarded. Continuum of services reform efforts include less reliance on residential and institutional programs and more emphasis on non-secure residential and in-home programs, reserving institutional care for the most serious or chronic offenders.

Delinquency Intake Screening
Anyone may file complaints of alleged delinquency. Upon referral, intake officers, working for the Department of Juvenile Services, screen youth to determine the appropriate course of action. Intake officers screen youth for risks and needs by reviewing
the presenting offense and the youth's alleged involvement, assessing risk to public safety, communicating with victims to determine victim impact and need for restitution, and interviewing the youth and parent/guardian/custodian. This interview includes an initial needs screening in the areas of somatic health, mental health, substance abuse, educational status, and individual and family functioning. When the results of a screening indicate further attention is warranted, the intake officer will refer the youth and family for an assessment and/or other services.

The intake officer may: (1) disapprove the case based on insufficient evidence; (2) otherwise resolve the case; (3) place the juvenile on informal supervision for up to 90 days; or (4) forward the case to the State's Attorney's Office with a recommendation to begin formal court action. The State's Attorney files the petition. The State's Attorney's Office initially reviews cases when juveniles are charged as adults.

Informal community supervision is the most common diversion approach for youth who are low risk and non-violent, requiring minimal supervision by juvenile counselors. Informal supervision may entail referral to another agency or individual for specialized counseling, coordinating payment of restitution for damages to victims, directing community service, and/or supervising the youth as needed.

In Baltimore, the Community Conferencing Center (CCC) is facilitating conferences as part of a court diversion program for juvenile nonviolent offenders and juvenile first-time felony offenders and as an alternative to school suspension and an aid in re-entry into family and community after incarceration. CCC uses the three-part restorative conference structure. Community conferences are always voluntary. In a diversion case, the offender must admit to wrongdoing, and all parties must agree to go through the conferencing process instead of sending the case to court. If community conferencing resolves the case, the offender will not have a court record.

Predisposition Investigation
Juvenile counselors, working in Maryland Department of Juvenile Services' regional offices, conduct predisposition investigations. The Classification Assessment Tool for Adjudicated Youth helps guide classification, out-of-home placement decisions, and case management decisions about adjudicated juveniles (prior to disposition). This tool also assists court decision-making prior to a disposition hearing. An assessment is conducted on all youth for whom a disposition is scheduled. The results of this assessment are provided to both the Institutional Case Manager and/or the juvenile counselor to use when developing the Treatment Services Plan and making recommendations to the court at disposition.

In FY 2002, the Department of Juvenile Services developed the Treatment Service Plan (TSP) format in consultation with the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University. Essentially, the TSP serves as a case management guide for service referral and youth accountability. The TSP format contains elements essential for documenting services in the following five major domain areas: education; mental health; somatic health; substance abuse; and family functioning. The TSP also captures data pertaining to assessments, violations and sanctions, and supervision requirements. Juvenile counselors are also required to complete Treatment Service Plans, which provide specific information to the court about treatment and/or rehabilitation of an adjudicated juvenile in order to aid the court in making disposition decisions. Recent legislation (House Bill 821 enacted in October 2003) made specific demands on juvenile counselors preparing Treatment Service Plans, including increased documentation of a family’s willingness or unwillingness to meet with the juvenile counselor. If the court adopts a Treatment Service Plan at a disposition hearing or disposition review hearing, the Department of Juvenile Justice is required to implement that plan within 25 days of the date of that hearing.

Victim Rights and Services
In 1998, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the Rights of Victim or Witness of Delinquent Act. This measure provides guidelines for agencies within the juvenile justice system on how to treat a victim or witness of a delinquent act. The Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) provides direct assistance to victims of juvenile crime; however, limited information about victim’s rights in Maryland is available online. DJS does manage a computerized statewide tracking system to monitor restitution paid by adjudicated youth and expedite disbursement to victims. For additional information on victim services, call the Director of Victim Services at the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services at (888) 639-7499.

Probation Supervision
Juvenile counselors in Department of Juvenile Services' regional offices operate as case managers and supervise juveniles placed on probation. Probation caseload size is not statutorily mandated.

The Treatment Service Plan (TSP) documents supervision requirements. For more information on TSP, please see the Predisposition Investigation section.

Juvenile Probation Officer Qualifications, Certification, and Training
A Juvenile Counselor I, II, or III must have either a bachelor's degree or an Associate of Arts degree with two years' experience. Experience requirements vary for the three levels: Juvenile Counselor I requires no experience; Juvenile Counselor II requires two years of experience; and Juvenile Counselor III requires four years of experience.

Juvenile counselors must be licensed with the state of Maryland after they obtain employment. In addition, all juvenile counselors must be certified. In order to be certified, they must complete an entrance-level training program which consists of a minimum of 160 hours of training in the following mandated subject areas: juvenile justice in the criminal justice system; human growth and development; laws and regulations; assessment; integrated case management; counseling; documentation; safety and security; and first aid.

Commitment to State
The court commits juveniles to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). DJS conducts an assessment and develops an Individual Service Plan that is presented to the court for review. The court commits adjudicated youth for an indeterminate time period ranging from 30 - 120 days. This time period can be increased or decreased based on the youth's behavior in placement as determined by the juvenile counselor. Placement reviews should be conducted within the youth's fifth month in placement and every five months thereafter.

Blended Sentencing
Maryland does not have blended sentencing provisions.

Direct Placement
All youth are committed to the Department of Juvenile Services for placement.

Institutional staff and the Department of Juvenile Services' Community Justice Division jointly recommend to the court when a juvenile should be physically discharged from a residential program, and where he or she should go.

Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) juvenile counselors supervise all youth released from placement. High risk/high need youth are assigned to a minimum of six months of intensive aftercare supervision (see below for description). A Treatment Service Plan is developed for youth assessed as high risk/needs. Aftercare for youth is also provided at high, medium, and low supervision levels as determined by a risk/needs assessment entitled Risk Assessment for Detained/Committed Populations (2001). For detailed information concerning aftercare, the Department of Juvenile Services published Aftercare Strategy (2003), a report that details the types of aftercare services provided to juveniles in Maryland.

Senate Bill 767, enacted in 2004, requires that all youth, upon discharge from a Department of Juvenile Services residential program, have a step-down aftercare plan. Aftercare services are designed to provide a range of support to ease the youth's re-entry into his or her community and decrease the number of repeat juvenile offenders.

DJS also operates an Intensive Aftercare Project to reduce the rate of recidivism of youth released from commitment. Under this project, DJS assigns a juvenile counselor and teams of social workers, family intervention specialists, and mental health professionals to counsel youth released from a commitment program, provide interventions for the youth, address family functioning, and serve as referral sources for family members.

State Laws

Legal Resources
Maryland Juvenile Code and Rules (Title 11. Juvenile Causes)

Maryland State Bar Association

Purpose Clause
To read Maryland's purpose clause for delinquency proceedings, click here.

Delinquency Jurisdiction (as of the end of the 2005 legislative session)
Lower Age: 7
Upper Age: 17

Extended Age of Delinquency Jurisdiction: 20

Juvenile Transfer Laws
For information on Maryland's juvenile transfer laws, click here.

Juvenile Justice Leadership

Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention
The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, as the designated state agency State Advisory Group, allocates and disburses federal funding and insures compliance with the core requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act. In accordance with Executive Order 01.01.2005.37, the Juvenile Justice Specialist for Maryland is housed in GOCCP and is responsible for staffing the Juvenile Grant Planning and Review Council (Juvenile Council).

Advocates for Children and Youth
According to its web site, Advocates for Children and Youth's (ACY) mission is "to identify problems, promote policies and programs that improve results for Maryland children in measurable and meaningful ways, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies for the state's children and youth." ACY staffs the Maryland Juvenile Justice Coalition.

Office of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (OPRA)
OPRA is charged with ensuring that the Department of Juvenile Services employees and service providers perform their duties and responsibilities in accordance with professional standards and practices, applicable law, rules of conduct, regulations, policy, procedures, and written directives. OPRA consists of four units working cooperatively in the best interests of the juvenile justice system: Auditing; Investigations and Child Advocacy; Professional Standards; Management Services and Quality Assurance.

State Advisory Group
Pursuant to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5633, and Maryland Governor's Executive Order #01.01.2005.37 Maryland has a state a state advisory group, the Juvenile Council, that performs the duties required by the state advisory group under the JJDP Act.

Advocates for Children and Youth
Department of Juvenile Services
Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention
Maryland Judiciary

Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions
Maryland State Bar Association

Debra Arnold
Eastern Region Chief & Juvenile Justice Specialist
Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention
300 E. Joppa Road, Suite 1105
Towson, MD 21286-3016
Phone: (410) 821-2852
Fax: (410) 321-3116

The National Center for Juvenile Justice strives to make each State Profile as accurate as possible. Please bring any errors, updates, or additions to the attention of the State Profiles project manager. Persons listed as state contacts are not responsible for information contained in these profiles.

© 2000 (original copyright); © 2006 (most recent copyright) National Center for Juvenile Justice

Citation: National Center for Juvenile Justice. 2006. "." State Juvenile Justice Profiles. Pittsburgh, PA: NCJJ. Online. Available:


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