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Fate of Md.'s Juvenile-Justice Monitor Uncertain

"I can assure you that we are very accomplished in dealing with any potential conflicts that may arise," Staton said.

The independent monitor, set up in response to outrage over abuses at juvenile boot camps, issues regular reports on the nearly 20 residential juvenile treatment or detention centers that the state owns or operates.

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Full Report

The monitor has no authority to investigate the roughly 350 programs run by private organizations in Maryland, though another bill would expand the monitor's scope.

That bill has cleared the House and is pending in the Senate.

During its short tenure, the monitor has uncovered rampant abuse and neglect, as well as examples of mismanagement at many juvenile centers. Its most recent report, released last week, detailed beatings sanctioned by authorities at the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center in Rockville.

"It shines a light into the dark corners of these institutions," said Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

While neither Democrats nor Republicans say they want the independent monitor to be dissolved, its demise would end many headaches for the Ehrlich administration, which has had to respond to each report -- and the ensuing news coverage -- with urgent pledges of reform.

The latest round of bad news for the Department of Juvenile Services came this week as legislative analysts predicted a multimillion-dollar shortfall this year in the agency's budget.

Agency Secretary Kenneth C. Montague Jr. told private organizations housing the system's juveniles that the department would be pulling the youths out.

Staff writer Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.


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