Delegate O’Donnell Asks Governor O’Malley For Answers on DJS Murder

MEDIA RELEASE

 

July 20, 2010

For Immediate Release

 Contact: Shannon Oxley Alford (410) 841-3401

 (Annapolis, MD) Over five months have passed since Maryland Department of Juvenile Services employee Hannah Wheeling was discovered outside her workplace in Prince George’s County, brutally murdered. The apparent perpetrator has been in continuous custody before and ever since the day of the murder. The murder occurred in a state run facility under control of the Department of Juvenile Services. Today, House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell asked Governor O’Malley for answers regarding the case.

“On February 18, Hannah Wheeling was found savagely beaten and sexually assaulted outside a state-run facility according to press reports at that time,” said Delegate O’Donnell. “Today, July 20, there have been no charges filed, and no updates to Maryland citizens on the reasons for the delay, or on actions taken to prevent future tragedies of a similar nature.  I have asked the Governor for answers regarding the disposition of the case, and the ongoing silence surrounding it.”

Delegate O’Donnell expressed his concern, and requested answers from the Governor to some basic questions about the situation in a letter hand-delivered to the Governor’s office earlier today.   The Minority Leader requested a response to these basic questions be forthcoming in a day or two at the most.

“Members of the public have a right to know that justice is being pursued with proactive determination. If it is not, they have a right to know the reasons why.” said Delegate O’Donnell.

“The public needs assurance that actions have been taken to investigate and correct the failures of the system that allowed this event to occur. If these actions are not taken, citizens have a right to know the reasons why. The Governor has the responsibility to ensure that both the pursuit of swift justice and the prevention of further harm are achieved.  He also has a responsibility to keep the public informed, even when it may cause officials in his own administration embarrassment.”

Friday Press Clips

House Minority Leader Calls Upon Governor to ask for Resignation of Secretary DeVore

Today, House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell called upon Governor O’Malley to ask for the resignation of Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Donald DeVore. Delegate O’Donnell made the following statement:

“The Department of Juvenile Services is an executive branch agency, and its secretary serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The state of affairs at DJS is untenable, and it is time for the Governor to act with the resolve and the executive leadership necessary to establish the accountability he so boldly assured to the people of Maryland. I have therefore called upon Governor O’Malley to ask for the resignation of Secretary DeVore, and for him to seek out and appoint a new administrator and a new leadership team for the Department of Juvenile services. The Governor needs a department head who will respond to the failures of the system, and the community that depends on the system.”

A formal request for the resignation of Secretary DeVore was hand- delivered to the Governor earlier today.

Since the O’Malley administration has taken office, there have been over 100 escapes and AWOLs from Maryland’s juvenile justice facilities. In one instance, violent offenders escaped from Cheltenham, members of the surrounding community were not notified by the Department for three days, and learned of the escape through media reports.There have been numerous assaults on children in the care of the system and on employees of the Department. In July 2009 a juvenile being monitored by the Department shot and critically wounded 5 year old Raven Wyatt.  Most recently, a teacher at the Cheltenham juvenile justice facility was murdered at the facility itself – the suspect in the case is a 13 year old juvenile in Department custody.  In a particularly horrifying survey released this January by the US Department of Justice, over 30% of youth held at the Backbone Mountain Youth Center in western Maryland reported being sexually victimized by staff at the facility.