[photo, One Center Plaza, 120 West Fayette St., Baltimore, Maryland]
  • Private & Quasi-Public Reformatories
  • State Department of Public Welfare
  • Juvenile Courts
  • State Department of Juvenile Services
  • Juvenile Services Administration
  • Juvenile Services Agency
  • Department of Juvenile Services (1989)
  • Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Department of Juvenile Services (2003)
  • One Center Plaza, 120 West Fayette St., Baltimore, Maryland, April 2001. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

    The Department of Juvenile Services works with troubled youth to treat and control juvenile delinquency. In the colonial period, children who turned to crime, begging, or vagrancy were jailed with hardened criminals. By the end of the eighteenth century, they could be committed to an almshouse. County courts and local trustees of the poor also bound out such children to learn a trade so that local government would not have to support them. As Maryland built its first prison in 1811, the idea came into vogue that the State ultimately could save money by stopping children from embarking on a life of crime. Children would be separated from adults in places of detention and given a home, education, and training for a trade.

    Private and Quasi-Public Reformatories. In 1830, the legislature passed "An Act to establish a House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents" (Chapter 64, Acts of 1830). A private corporation supported by member subscriptions, the House of Refuge nevertheless had ties to State and local government. Of its twenty-four managers, eight were appointed by the Governor and Council, eight by the membership, and eight by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. Managers were to report annually to the legislature, and the institution's buildings and grounds would be tax-free. The House of Refuge was to admit minors who were arrested for begging in the streets of Baltimore; arrested, awaiting trial, or convicted of any criminal charge in the courts of Baltimore City or Baltimore County; found refractory by almshouse trustees; or convicted by a county court of an offense punishable by imprisonment in the Penitentiary. Instead of granting an outright appropriation to the fledgling institution, the General Assembly assigned up to $5,000 annually for five years from the profits of the Maryland Penitentiary to support the House of Refuge. Those five years were unprofitable for the Penitentiary and consequently for the House of Refuge as well. Financial difficulties hampered construction and, by 1841, the managers were ready to return contributions (Chapter 3, Acts of 1841). In 1849, while the legislature appropriated no State funds to hasten construction, it did amend the 1830 law. Upon complaint of a parent or guardian, the House of Refuge now was authorized to admit incorrigible minors prior to arrest (Chapter 374, Acts of 1849). That same year the Penitentiary Warden in his annual report alluded to

    In recommending State aid, a select committee of the House of Delegates noted in 1852 that the House of Refuge had been contemplated for thirty-eight years, with $20,000 contributed thus far by the City of Baltimore, $22,000 from private subscriptions, and not one penny from the State. By December 1855, the House of Refuge opened. A year later, another select committee visited and found it "a grand and noble institution," and the General Assembly appropriated $10,000 annually to its support for five years (Chapter 288, Acts of 1856). By 1867, according to the annual report, the House of Refuge had housed 1,638 children: 1,394 boys and 244 girls.

    Midcentury, private institutions, including orphanages and reformatories, proliferated, especially in Baltimore City. The Home of the Friendless was incorporated in 1854, followed by the Children's Aid Society in 1862, the House of the Good Shepherd in 1864, and St. Joseph's House of Industry and St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys in 1865. With State appointees on their governing boards and fairly regular government funding, these institutions became quasi-public in nature and received children committed by courts, magistrates, justices of the peace, parents, or guardians.

    After the Civil War, reformatories for youth were established as private institutions segregated by race and gender. Four ultimately became public reformatories: the House of Refuge; the House of Reformation; the Maryland Industrial School for Girls; and the Industrial Home for Colored Girls. After the House of Refuge came the Maryland Industrial School for Girls, incorporated in 1866 for the "care, reformation and instruction of such girls as are not admitted into either the House of Refuge, the Home of the Friendless, or the Children's Aid Society, but who need the care of some public reformatory institution" (Chapter 156, Acts of 1866). Initially, directors of the School were chosen from the membership or appointed by the Mayor of Baltimore; the School received no State aid but its property was tax-exempt. By 1870, however, the Governor appointed ten of thirty directors (Chapter 391, Acts of 1870). The School was renamed the Female House of Refuge in 1880 (Chapter 173, Acts of 1880).

    The House of Reformation and Instruction for Colored Children was incorporated in 1870 (Chapter 392, Acts of 1870), perhaps in response to the "Memorial of the Grand Jury of Baltimore City Praying that a Place of Punishment may be Provided for Minor Colored Children" (House Documents, X, February 5, 1867). The Governor appointed two of sixteen managers; buildings and grounds were tax-free; a report to the General Assembly was required; and, contingent on $30,000 from private subscriptions, an appropriation of $5,000 was allotted annually for two years. In 1882, the Industrial Home for Colored Girls was established and given tax-exempt status (Chapter 291, Acts of 1882). The Governor appointed two of its eleven managers.

    These private reformatories served a public role as caretakers for the State's youthful offenders. Two of them, indeed, became public agencies of the State in 1918. The former House of Refuge, then known as the Maryland School for Boys, became the Maryland Training School for Boys, the State reformatory for white boys (Chapter 300, Acts of 1918). Its counterpart for white girls, the former Maryland Industrial School for Girls, then the Female House of Refuge was designated the Maryland Industrial Training School for Girls (Chapter 303, Acts of 1918).

    In an executive reorganization of 1922, both training schools together with the Maryland School for the Deaf were placed under the Department of Education (Chapter 29, Acts of 1922). When Maryland, in 1931, established the Maryland Training School for Colored Girls as a reformatory, superseding the Industrial Home for Colored Girls, it too came under the oversight of the State Superintendent of Schools (Chapter 367, Acts of 1931). The State completed its acquisition of private reform schools in 1937 by taking over the House of Reformation at Cheltenham as the State reformatory for black boys and renaming it Cheltenham School for Boys (Chapter 70, Acts of 1937).

    State Department of Public Welfare. By the 1940s, though the State paid for institutional care for children in public and private institutions, services were not coordinated nor standards set for care. Each institution controlled its own admissions and parole. Yet, staff and funding for parole were so limited that children often failed to readjust to the community and were reinstitutionalized. The State Board of Public Welfare had more authority over private institutions than over the State training schools which were full of untrainable, mentally handicapped delinquents and nondelinquent children who would have benefitted from in-home or foster care had such programs been available. Maryland's child welfare services were desperately in need of coordination to ensure that each child received appropriate care. In 1943, the Maryland Commission on Juvenile Delinquency recommended creation of a Bureau of Child Welfare under the State Department of Public Welfare; placement of the State's four institutions for delinquent children under a division for children's institutions within the Bureau of Child Welfare; and establishment of an institution (somewhere between a training school and prison) for incorrigible offenders between ages 16 to 20. The legislature responded the same year by requiring the State Department of Public Welfare to supervise both public and private institutions "having the care, custody or control of dependent, delinquent, abandoned or neglected children;" creating a Bureau of Child Welfare with a Division of Institutions within the Department; placing the State training schools under the Department's supervision; and requiring the Department to establish standards for care, admission, discharge, and after-care (Chapter 797, Acts of 1943). The Division of Institutions oversaw the State's training schools for delinquent children: Maryland Training School for Boys, the Montrose School for Girls (formerly Maryland Industrial Training School for Girls), the Cheltenham School for Boys, and the Maryland Training School for Colored Girls. The State Department of Public Welfare also later administered the forestry camps first established in 1955 for delinquent boys in Western Maryland. Under the Department of Juvenile Services, these camps were reorganized in 1977 as youth centers.

    Juvenile Courts. In the nineteenth century, institutions were seen as the solution to many social ills. But for juvenile offenders, the existence of reformatories did not preclude the possibility of a jail or prison sentence. Minors who committed a crime still could be tried, convicted, and punished like adults. In 1849, approximately 8 percent of Maryland Penitentiary prisoners were between the ages of 13 to 18. In 1897, some 42 years after the founding of the House of Refuge for juveniles, roughly 15 percent of prisoners in the Penitentiary were between 12 and 20 years of age just prior to conviction, and 21 percent in the Maryland House of Correction were aged 10 to 20 years when first imprisoned.

    Progressives, at the turn of the century, were concerned about youth in prisons. They believed that children were not criminals and that they needed treatment, not punishment. Reformers helped establish the first juvenile court in the country in Chicago in 1899. Baltimore did not lag far behind. The Charity Organization Society lobbied for a Magistrate for Juvenile Causes to hear cases of minors under age 16 in Baltimore City. The law, passed in 1902, allowed the magistrate, who was a justice of the peace, to commit children awaiting trial to a reformatory instead of jail, and authorized the Supreme Bench to appoint unpaid probation officers to investigate the circumstances of each child brought to trial, represent the interests of the child, and have control and custody of the child before and after the trial. Court proceedings could be suspended and a child placed on conditional probation under supervision of a probation officer (Chapter 611, Acts of 1902).

    In the counties, juvenile delinquency was less acute. Nevertheless, in 1916 county circuit courts were empowered to designate a judge who would hear, try, and determine cases of dependent, neglected or delinquent children (Chapter 326, Acts of 1916). For the first time, the law defined a delinquent child as a boy under age 20 or a girl under age 18 who had violated a criminal law; was incorrigible; associated with thieves or other depraved persons; was growing up in idleness or crime; frequented gambling places; beer saloons and other unsavory places; or was guilty of indecent, immoral or lascivious behavior. Each circuit court was to appoint paid probation officers. The law also prohibited confinement of a child under age 14 in a jail or police station with other prisoners.

    Public concern about child welfare prompted the Governor to appoint two commissions: the Children's Code Commission of 1922, and the Commission on Laws of Minors, which completed its work in 1924. Instigated by the League of Women Voters, the Children's Code Commission found that many children were trapped in the juvenile system and cited the case of a 2 and 1/2 year old child, committed to reform school as an incorrigible minor. Committed children remained in custody of reformatories until they reached age 21. Both commissions reviewed all laws in Maryland relating to minors and found that despite the 1916 statute, only seven counties had established juvenile courts. The Commissions recommended that juvenile courts be mandated, and decisions of the Juvenile Court of Baltimore City be given more judicial weight so as to be less easily reversed. Further, they found that supervision of children's welfare ought to be vested in one agency, the State Board of Welfare. Perhaps because a Judiciary Commission was at the same time studying ways to revise the whole judicial system, no action was taken until 1931 to make juvenile courts more effective.

    In 1931, juvenile jurisdiction was removed from the county circuit courts (Chapter 323, Acts of 1931). The Governor appointed an additional justice of the peace for each county to serve as Magistrate for Juvenile Causes with criminal jurisdiction and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of commitment of minors under age 16. The Magistrate was authorized to conduct informal hearings, place a minor on probation at any stage of the court proceeding, or cause the minor to be examined by a doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. A minor, upon arrest, would be detained in a suitable place such as a juvenile institution, not the county jail. In each county, the Governor appointed juvenile court committees to confer with and assist the Magistrate for Juvenile Causes. The Magistrate named probation officers with constabulary authority who were required to have at least one year's experience in social work. The 1931 law, however, did not apply to Baltimore City, or Allegany, Washington and Baltimore counties.

    The rate of juvenile crime increased in the 1940s and, in Maryland, focused attention on the place of minors within the criminal justice system. After public outcry, the Governor appointed a commission in 1940 and another in 1941 to study the problem. They drew similar conclusions. Only eight counties had juvenile courts, probation officers, or someplace other than the county jail for detention of minors. Only four counties had active juvenile court committees. In Baltimore City, the Juvenile Court lacked authority to handle felonies committed by children and needed a temporary detention center. In 1943, the Maryland Commission on Juvenile Delinquency called for reform of the juvenile courts, and for study and implementation of crime prevention plans. The Commission agreed with recommendations of the White House Conference of 1940 that juvenile courts should adjudicate, but treatment functions should be assigned to State and local departments of child welfare. Reforming juvenile courts included ending the system of magistrates for juvenile causes; defining the age limit for juvenile offenders; distinguishing between criminal and juvenile causes; and giving exclusive jurisdiction for juvenile causes to the Circuit Courts of the counties and the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City. Thereafter, the juvenile causes law was revised first for Baltimore City and then for the counties.

    In 1943, the old magistrate court for Baltimore City was abolished and a new Circuit Court for Juvenile Causes established (Chapter 818, Acts of 1943). A Master of Juvenile Causes could conduct preliminary hearings and commit children to the State Department of Public Welfare. For Baltimore City, the law defined a child as being under age 16. In 1945, the State juvenile causes law was revised. It abolished the magistrate system, gave exclusive jurisdiction in juvenile cases to the county circuit court, and defined a child to be under age 18 (Chapter 797, Acts of 1945). No longer could a child be charged with the commission of any crime. Under the new law, a minor under age 18 could be charged only as a dependent, delinquent, neglected or feeble-minded child. Appointed by the judge, probation officers still were to make preliminary and follow-up investigations. In any case concerning a child, the judge could dismiss the case; place the child on probation; give custody of the child to a public or private institution or person; or, in cases which would be a misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult, waive jurisdiction. Some counties were not covered by the new law.

    Further reform came in 1969 when the concept of a "child in need of supervision" (CINS) became significant. Such a child was defined as habitually truant, disobedient, ungovernable, a danger to himself or others, or one who had committed an offense applicable only to children, and required guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation (Chapter 432, Acts of 1969). Previously, a CINS had been included in the definition of delinquent child, who was redefined as a child who had committed a delinquent act (any act which would be a crime if commited by an adult) and required supervision, treatment, or rehabilitation. Separating the two categories of youthful offenders gave impetus to the movement away from institutional care towards broader-based community treatment. The 1969 law required not only that children be detained separately from adults but also that adjudicated delinquents be kept away from alleged delinquents; children in need of supervision; or neglected, mentally handicapped or dependent minors. Despite prohibitions going back at least to 1916, the legislature found it necessary to include a deadline in the 1969 law after which no child could be detained in a jail or adult facility. This deadline was later extended to January 1, 1975 (Chapter 616, Acts of 1971). By 1973, in-home or community care for the CINS virtually was mandated, when it became unlawful to commit any child except an adjudicated delinquent to a juvenile institution (Chapter 737, Acts of 1973).

    State Department of Juvenile Services. After the 1945 revision of the juvenile causes law, the juvenile justice system diversified according to local needs, finances, and beliefs. Each county handled juvenile problems differently, with a child's needs often not adequately met. The Advisory Council on Child Welfare, established in 1963, reported to the legislature in 1965 that Maryland lacked a uniform statewide probation service for juvenile courts. Citing the unequal administration of juvenile justice, the General Assembly called for the Legislative Council to initiate a study to determine: a uniform age limit for the jurisdiction of juvenile courts; an appropriate age limit for commitment of juveniles to institutions; and the most effective way to establish standard probation services (Joint Resolution no. 16, Acts of 1965). That study led to the creation of the State Department of Juvenile Services in 1966 as the "central coordinating agency for juvenile investigation, probation and aftercare services and for State juvenile, diagnostic, training, detention, and rehabilitation institutions" (Chapter 126, Acts of 1966). Personnel providing investigative, probation and after-care services to juvenile courts were employees of the new department but under the direct supervision and control of the juvenile court judge.

    The State Department of Juvenile Services in 1967 assumed administrative responsibilities for all State juvenile training schools, children's centers, and boys' forestry camps, previously overseen by the State Department of Public Welfare. At the same time, the Department initiated a single statewide program for juvenile probation and aftercare services, formerly provided by the counties, Baltimore City, the State Department of Public Welfare, and the State Department of Parole and Probation.

    Juvenile Services Administration. In 1969, the State Department of Juvenile Services, then known as the Juvenile Services Administration, was placed within the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Chapter 77, Acts of 1969).

    Juvenile Services Agency Reorganized as an independent unit, the Juvenile Services Administration was renamed the Juvenile Services Agency in 1987 (Chapter 290, Acts of 1987).

    Department of Juvenile Services. The Juvenile Services Agency reorganized in 1989 as the Department of Juvenile Services, a principal department of State government (Chapter 539, Acts of 1989).

    Department of Juvenile Justice. In 1995, the Department of Juvenile Services became the Department of Juvenile Justice (Chapter 8, Acts of 1995).

    Department of Juvenile Services. In July 2003, the Department of Juvenile Justice reformed as the Department of Juvenile Services (Chapter 53, Acts of 2003; Code 1957, Art. 83C, secs. 1-101 through 2-136).

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