The Department of Juvenile Services quietly removed the person overseeing whether kids arrested in Baltimore are detained after Maryland’s top lawmakers questioned why children accused of violent crime were being released hours after their arrest.

Chashelle Warren no longer works as intake director at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, leaving DJS the week before Christmas and about seven weeks after key lawmakers sent a pointed letter criticizing the department’s handling of cases where teens were required to be detained instead of released. That letter revealed the department had launched an internal investigation into the issue and promised accountability. Reached by phone, Warren confirmed she has left juvenile services but declined to be interviewed.

“I am glad they have identified this issue, but I think it points to the need for more oversight related to the intake process at DJS,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Luke Clippinger, one of the letter’s authors, told The Baltimore Banner.

In a statement, juvenile services said they could not comment on personnel issues.

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The personnel change comes as the state agency has faced relentless criticism from prosecutors and scrutiny from officials in Annapolis, much of which has landed at the feet of Juvenile Services Secretary Vincent Schiraldi, who is not quite one year into the job. Since starting in January 2023, the 40-year veteran juvenile justice reformer also replaced the superintendents of the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center and the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center.

For months, officials have said DJS is releasing children in Baltimore who should be detained. The loudest critic among them has been Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates. The clash between the two agencies reached a boiling point mid-December at a South Baltimore town hall focused on juvenile justice issues. There, Schiraldi said he and the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office had not only a difference of opinion on the issues but also a “difference of facts” when it came to agency decisions made on certain cases.

Bates’ office declined to comment on the personnel change. Spokesperson James Bentley said the state’s attorney’s office is “open to working collaboratively” with DJS to ensure better outcomes for Baltimore’s youth.

While DJS data shows more kids are being detained this year than last year in the city, there have been notable lapses in judgment.

Juvenile services acknowledged as much in a Dec. 21 statement to The Banner, with spokesperson Eric Solomon writing in an email that the agency “immediately investigated” once it was brought to their attention that certain cases weren’t being appropriately handled.

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The agency, upon completing its investigation, “took appropriate personnel action,” Solomon wrote then, but mentioned no specifics.

In November, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, Clippinger and other Baltimore Democrats, sent a letter to Schiraldi and Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley stating the lawmakers were “deeply concerned” about the number of kids suspected of violent crimes who were released after being arrested.

The letter highlighted a Nov. 1 incident near Patterson Park in which a group of kids were accused of assaulting and robbing a woman. Police arrested them, but a juvenile services supervisor ordered them released to their parents when the law called for them to be held in custody, according to the letter.

Dels. Robbyn Lewis and Mark Edelson and Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen also signed the letter.

Cohen, in a statement, said the decision to remove the intake director in Baltimore was the right one.

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“Clearly, there was a pattern of flagrant disregard for public safety in allowing suspects to be released within hours even when they were accused of extremely violent crimes,” he said. “These decisions violated the rights of victims, put communities in danger, and sent the wrong message to suspects. I am glad that the letter my colleagues and I wrote to DJS and BPD had an impact.”

Clippinger said the lingering issues at DJS will be something his committee focuses on when the legislative session begins next week. Ferguson could not be reached for comment.

For months, elected prosecutors and local law enforcement heads have railed against two juvenile justice reforms passed in 2022. Those laws make it so children age 12 and under can only be charged with violent crimes and requires all juveniles to consult with an attorney about their right to remain silent before police interrogate them. Though law enforcement officials say the laws hinder their ability to do their jobs, those officials often can’t cite specific examples. Advocates say the laws protect the rights of children being investigated for crimes.

Lawmakers are expected to review the reforms during the legislative session, which starts Jan. 10.

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