• Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • What Would Make Baltimore Safer?

    Monique Dixon and Terry Hickey Part 2: There is no evidence supporting a new $100 million youth prison for youth charged as adults -   April 25, 2012
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

    I support The Real News Network because it cured my vertigo from all the spinning by Fox and MSNBC. - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


    Monique L. Dixon, J.D., is the Director of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program of OSI-Baltimore. She is responsible for developing, monitoring, and evaluating criminal and juvenile justice funding strategies for OSI-Baltimore, which seeks to reduce the overuse of incarceration as well as its social and economic costs. Prior to joining OSI-Baltimore, Dixon served as senior staff attorney at Advancement Project in Washington, D.C., a non-profit civil rights organization. She also co-authored several reports on zero tolerance school discipline policies that lead youth from schools to prisons. Terry Hickey is the Executive Director of Community Law In Action, Inc., a nonprofit organization he founded in 1998. CLIA is dedicated to engaging youth as problem solvers and active citizens. Terry is an attorney who also teaches classes at the University of Maryland School of Law and UMBC, where he teaches courses on urban problem solving and legislative advocacy.


    What Would Make Baltimore Safer?PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And this is a continuing discussion about how to have a safer community in Baltimore.

    There's a big debate going on here about whether or not Baltimore needs a new youth prison for youth charged as adults. About $100 million is planned for that by the state of Maryland. But is that really going to make people safer? And if it isn't, what will?

    Now joining us to discuss all of this is Terry Hickey. Terry is the executive director of Community Law in Action, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1998. And Monique Dixon. She's deputy director of OSI-Baltimore and director of its criminal and juvenile justice program. Thank you both for joining us.



    JAY: So that's the question. If—people can watch part one of this interview and the rest of our series, and you'll find most people think that the prison really isn't going to make the community safer. So if it isn't, what would?

    DIXON: Well, in terms of youth crime, young people need things to do. I mean, at the same time that we're planning on building—that the state is planning on building a new jail, recreational centers will close. Our schools, you know, many of the schools are old. And you can't learn in an environment that's not welcoming. So instead of—we need to invest more in schools, recreational centers. We need to invest more in youth jobs. Young people are out. You know, my grandmother always says a idle mind is the devil's workshop. Right? So if you don't have anything to do during the day, young people hang out and of course get involved in mischievous events and acts. But if employment is offered to young people and they are learning skills and how to become productive adults, I really believe you'll see a difference, a continued decrease in youth crime here in the city.

    JAY: I mean, that is part of the issue we touched on in the first part of the interview, which is there actually isn't this big crime wave going on in Baltimore, and, you know, maybe, you know, you know, The Wire is over, the seasons are done. That isn't—there isn't this, but there is a feeling there is. And if you talk to people and if you ask—. We did a sort of a little editorial survey on front porches in East Baltimore, and we asked people walking by, what would you like us to do stories about. And, well, number one was boarded-up housing, why are so many houses boarded up. But number two was we're fed up with the crime.

    DIXON: Right. So crime is happening. I mean, I'm not denying that crime is happening in the city. And people who live in neighborhoods where it's occurring will attest to that. I'm talking about youth crime that will lead—serious youth crime that—if you look at the statistics, it is going down. And building a jail, however, is not going to reduce crime in the city. It just isn't. It hasn't so far. You know. And to have an expectation that—. You can't build your way out of a crime situation. You have to do things differently. And providing young people with recreational centers, jobs, and, you know, strong schools, and adults with employment as well—. You know, we're in a city that has a high poverty rate. People are not working. We have to provide opportunities for the residents of this city.

    JAY: But when you talk to people in the community who—and I think it should be emphasized this isn't like some white-black debate in Baltimore. You know, a large number of people in the African-American community either support this prison or at least support cracking down. You know, they want troublemakers off the streets. And so it's a community debate. And they're saying that okay, maybe you do need all that stuff, but in the meantime we need to be able to walk to the store without getting robbed.

    DIXON: Sure.

    HICKEY: I'm sorry. There's an important point at this, though, is that this youth jail, they want to build a bigger, shinier building. One already exists. It's at the BCDC. There is a youth jail right now that has had no negligible impact, except we see youth crime going down dramatically at that level. And to reiterate, there's—you know, where there were a hundred-something, there are now 36 youth there. We are seeing things in the juvenile system working. There is a system for this.

    But what's happening is that this is diverting the real discussion. This is taking, you know, the people that live in these communities away from a discussion of holding DJS accountable, away from an idea about where are serious deep-end youth that commit serious crimes. Aren't they being sent to the right places for treatment? They're backed up in the pipeline now because we don't have the resources. Right now there's been plans for three years to build a youth treatment facility near the city to treat those serious cases. They can't get that money. But yet we're talking about spending almost $100 million of taxpayer money to build a building that every single economic and sociological and criminology example says isn't going to work [crosstalk]

    JAY: And maybe for 40 or 50 kids.

    HICKEY: Exactly.

    JAY: There was a report called the Proposed Alternative Action Plan for Construction of a Youth Jail in Baltimore, and it proposed what to do with this money if it was just made available instead of for the prison. And I take it that it isn't as simple as that, just because if it doesn't go to the prison, maybe it won't go to anything. But if you took that money and applied it, one of the proposals was $30 million for aging public schools and construction program, $15 million for parks and recreation centers, $10 million for community-based youth villages providing wraparound services, $8 million for community-based alternative to detention, renovation of vacant homes that serve homeless youth $7 million, community vocational training centers for $5 million, employment one-stop center for youth $5 million. I mean, it seems a no-brainer that if the object is a safer community, $100 million doing that is going to do more than 40 kids sitting in holding facilities.

    HICKEY: Sure. Sure.

    JAY: What is the politics of this?

    HICKEY: Well, you know, first of all, what I think human nature is—and I did it myself before I got involved in this work—is you tend to picture the most hardened 17-year-old that you imagine sitting in that jail, and then your mind puts them in a rec center, you know, or outside of school and thinks, well, that's silly, that's not going to help. The problem is we never got to them at the right time. Those things didn't exist that—. I worked with these kids. You know, that 12-year-old becomes that 17-year-old. But they weren't born that way, and it's about that lack of opportunity. And we never get to that conversation, or if we do, it seems—and let's be honest—it seems like a light and breezy, naive way of looking at these kids. But if you get to know them, that's just simply not the case. It's about prioritizing. And that's what we need to start to do is to prioritize and not get misdirected and not buy into misperceptions about what's really going to work.

    JAY: What is the actual response when you sit down with politicians and say this to them? What do they say to you? I don't understand how they argue with you.

    DIXON: There is a memo of understanding between the department and the—the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Justice. The conditions at the jail are so poor that it attracted the attention of the Department of Justice back in 2000.

    JAY: Federally.

    DIXON: Federal. And the federal investigators came in and looked at the jail, the youth section as well as the women's section, and found that, you know, number one, the individuals at the jail were not keeping youth separated from adults, which is required by law, and that the physical plan just was not in the condition that was the best environment—frankly, a humane environment—for anyone. And so the federal government entered into an agreement, in order to avoid litigation, that the department should improve conditions and make sure that youth and adults are separated.

    JAY: Is some of this money federal money?

    DIXON: The money for the new jail?

    JAY: For the prison?

    DIXON: No. No.

    JAY: So it's not like they're going to lose some federal money if they don't build a prison.

    DIXON: Right. And the federal government did not require a new facility. They wanted the department to come up with a plan for keeping the young people separate and for improving the conditions. So the governor and the secretary's response is: we have this agreement with the federal government to improve conditions, and this is the solution. Building a new jail is the solution from their perspective.

    JAY: So what's the answer to that, if they say, we've got—we made the deal, and it's good for the kids, it's better for the kids than in that terrible other institution? So why not?

    HICKEY: Well, and, see, there we agree. A lot of us that have worked in that facility with kids agree they shouldn't be there. But like Monique said, the Department of Justice isn't saying they have to spend an almost $100 million—build a $100 million facility. They need to do something. They need to find another facility where kids can go. They need to stop charging youth as adults altogether. They need to put youth in juvenile facilities even if they're awaiting adult trials.

    These are all decisions. These are priorities. These are policy decisions that can be made. When NCCD issued their report—. The department is really hanging on to the—. If you do nothing, you don't need more than a 117-bed facility—if you do nothing. And it's a status quo argument, which government often falls into.

    JAY: "Do nothing" meaning there's no social programs.

    HICKEY: Make no change, do nothing, add no programs, do nothing for kids, don't do anything with the juvenile system.

    JAY: You just want to get these kids out of that institution and put them in this one.

    HICKEY: Keep going like you're doing. And we would argue that even from when NCCD did those numbers a year ago, that it's much lower even now.

    DIXON: Yes.

    HICKEY: But if you look at the rest of the NCCD report and any of the studies that we found out there, there are things you can do. You can simply find—you have to have the political will, but you can find room in juvenile facilities. You can cut down the number of charges in a staggered sense. You can slowly phase out the different charges for charging youth as adults. Some have brokered other suggestions as well. But all of those involve taking it down to almost none at all.

    There's a bill up this year in front of the general assembly that would have all youth go to the juvenile system first, even if they're—in the facilities, even if they're awaiting trial in the adult system. That bill's still being heard. It's still there. If it passes, that cancels out the need for this facility altogether. So why invest taxpayer money any further in this when we are seeing legislators start to say, you know, I'm okay with that bill, I kind of like it, why are we charging them at all? And we're seeing a renewed energy around why are we charging them as adults.

    JAY: Charging as adults, yeah.

    HICKEY: Why are we doing that? And we're hopeful that, if not this year, next year you're going to see legislative will behind the idea of not doing it. Then we're going to have a really big, really useless building sitting in East Baltimore that's yet another example of how we miscalculated to the detriment of our kids.

    JAY: So the bottom line here is if you're—you know, you can have two objectives: how can we spend $100 million, or how can we have a safer community. I mean, if you're wedded to the idea of a jail, you have one set of considerations. But if the real issue is community safety, what should people in the community be doing, both about this issue of the prison and about a safer community?

    DIXON: Many of the recommendations made in the alliance's action plan that you mentioned, particularly the reallocation of funding, came from community meetings that many of our grantee organizations organize. And so the need for Youth Villages and youth jobs—all the creative things that came up in that list came from community residents. And what we would say to them is take those lists to, you know, leaders in your community through your city council members and begin working with policymakers to have those things that community members believe they need in their neighborhoods come into their neighborhoods. I think that, you know, there's a sense of hopelessness that nothing can be done. But I think what we're seeing is that when communities organize themselves and really make demands of government, then you can see some change. And so we really encourage different neighborhoods around the city to continue to do what they're doing, and particularly around this jail and—.

    JAY: But you haven't seen too much change on this yet.

    DIXON: Well, I—.

    JAY: And there's been a lot of activity.

    DIXON: There hasn't—. Well, I guess I'm just a hopeless optimist. You know, I really—there has been—the discussions have shifted. Even the way this has been covered in the news is changing. And I think that if we continue to show the illogical way that the state is trying to move, build this jail, that other people will realize it. And, you know, I think it'll take time. We didn't get into this situation overnight. And so it will take some time.

    JAY: 'Cause it's not just about stopping the jail. It's—the reallocation of the funds is sort of the bigger deal, isn't it?

    DIXON: That's right. That's right.

    HICKEY: In fact, I see the jail has a critical distraction. I see the jail as something we've been fighting—. Remember, this was supposed to break ground in 2010, and capital projects like this break ground generally when they're supposed to break ground, and there's no construction money in the budget for this next year, which means it's another year out, it's four years before this thing gets built, even if the state gets its way, which I don't think with the tidal shift we're seeing in Annapolis it's going to. People are starting to ask questions about the use of our money. You know, if they don't buy into the youth piece, they buy into the fiscal responsibility piece: our money is too important to take these kind of chances, either on the money side or the kids' side. And, you know, I'm a father, I live in the city, I know about how important safety is, but I would ask people not to give up on these kids, because the kids that aren't involved in these things, which are the vast majority, feel that, and that's not what they want either. They want to be assets in their neighborhood and—.

    JAY: 'Cause the real issue here is the decay of the public school system, isn't it? I mean, and I'm not saying we can get into that now, but prison or no prison, you have a decaying public school system, which is going to lead to kids that are going to wind up getting involved in things they get charged for.

    HICKEY: Sure, which comes back to us as a community deciding as a priority where we spend our money. And that's what I hope this fight over the jail is going to eliminate once and for all.

    JAY: Okay. Thanks very much for joining us. We're going to be doing town hall debates about the jail and public policy, and certainly drilling into the whole issue of the public school system, and we'll be doing a lot more from Baltimore. So thank you. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at


    Latest Stories

    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7), Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting