Pubdate: Fri, 10 Dec 1999
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 1999 by The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Seth Hettena
Related: Part I of IV:


BALTIMORE (AP) - A state judge on Friday pulled 26 juvenile delinquents
from military-style boot camps, after hearing testimony from the youths
about abuse from camp guards that included one teen's account of being
thrown through a window.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Martin P. Welch summoned the teen-agers to
Baltimore Friday to hear from them about their treatment.

Eyewitness accounts of abuse by guards at a boot camp in western Maryland
chronicled in a series of articles in The (Baltimore) Sun this week has
prompted investigations into the treatment of juvenile criminals at such

Welch ordered that all 26 juveniles be placed in other secured facilities.

"The court can and does find that the leadership training program ... is an
inappropriate placement for each of the 26 respondents," Welch said,
referring to the boot camps.

He also expressed "grave concern as to how this could have occurred."

Three of the five boys who testified Friday said they were assaulted for
infractions such as not finishing all the food on their plate, not
completing a series of rigorous exercises and talking.

One 16-year-old boy testified that he had been hit, kicked and punched by
guards during six weeks at the Backbone Leadership Challenge camp, one of
three in Garrett County.

He said a camp guard threw him through a window after he admitted talking
with other boys without permission.

The boy also said his letters and phone calls had been censored.

Representatives of the media were allowed to listen to the testimony, on
condition the boys not be named.

Another 16-year-old boy testified that on his first day at the Savage
Leadership Challenge camp, Nov. 29, a guard stuck his thumbs in the boy's
eyes because the teen left coleslaw on his plate.

All 26 teens were represented by public defenders.

Welch expressed "grave concern as to how this could have occurred."

Harry Langmead, assistant secretary at the Department of Juvenile Justice,
who attended the hearing, said he was "embarrassed" by what he had heard.

"I can't believe that I was so blind when I went up there not to notice
something was wrong," said Langmead, who is in charge of all the camps.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D