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Caged Birds Sing: A Report by Girls on the A Unit at Waxter

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2010
18 pages
This report, produced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, presents the opinions of young girls incarcerated at the Waxter facility in Laurel, Maryland.
The Thomas J.S. Waxter Children's Center in Laurel, Maryland, is the only secure facility in the State of Maryland that is exclusively for girls, housing them both before and after they have been through the court system. This report, produced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland presents the opinions of the young women incarcerated at this facility. During a series of workshops conducted by the author, the girls explored the issues that were of concern to them, and identified ways for them to effect change. The girls described their lives and how they became involved with the juvenile justice system, and how they felt the system, and the adults in power, could make changes that would improve the girls' lives and outcomes resulting from their involvement with the system. As a result of these workshops, the author collected these comments and produced this report. Areas of concern addressed by the girls include what life is like in the facility; how they got there; the services missing from the facility such as medical and educational services; and problems with the current program at the facility, such as not being heard and missing their families. The report also includes a set of recommendations from the girls that fall into several categories: general recommendations, recommendations about how to handle girls; and recommendations for specific things to change at Waxter. The final section of the report presents a series of actions that others can take to improve the situation of the girls incarcerated at the Waxter facility.