Kelly Pushed for Detention Center in Waldorf

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Kelly Pushed for Detention Center in Waldorf

Waldorf, MD - 4/19/2012

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By Andy Marquis

Charles County Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) speaking at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata on October 18, 2011.
Charles County Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) speaking at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata on October 18, 2011.
Hundreds of emails and letters obtained by The BayNet on Thursday document Charles County Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) supporting the proposal to build a detention center in Waldorf. Kelly is seen in the email giving suggestions to Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Sam Abed on how to win public support.
“At the (Community Partnership Council) meeting yesterday morning, I reported on the proposed DJS Children’s Center, the upcoming public meeting and the importance of supporting the concept of a Children’s Center,” Kelly said in an email to Abed and the Charles County Delegation dated September 30, 2011. “I would recommend that you make contact with the leader of this group and keep her informed of the date and time of the hearing, and provide a fact sheet or other information that could be helpful to council members who might be willing to testify at the hearing. Even if they don’t testify in favor of the location, they could, and I am certain would, testify in favor of a Children’s Center and in doing so would bring a voice to the youth to be served and the importance of providing services for them.
“I ask also that you keep in mind, in terms of comparison, that our County Detention Center is located in the heart of La Plata next door to a Senior Housing facility and less than 3,000 feet from Archbishop Neale School and a Catholic Elementary School and a Pre-School/Day Care Center called Little Lambs in the United Methodist Church across the street. This Detention Center also houses federal prisoners. We have never had a problem or break-out that I am aware of.”
Kelly’s email concludes saying, “There was a DJS rep at the meeting” and saying “she did a very good job advocating for the Children’s Center. Wanted you to know that your folks are working hard in the field!”
The other commissioners were not made aware of the email in any way, and Commissioner Vice President Reuben Collins (D), who represents the district the proposal affected, had not seen the email until he was contacted by The BayNet.
The move to build it in Waldorf came after public outcry against a detention center in Nanjemoy. Kelly advocated against the detention center in a letter to Maryland State Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D: 28th District – Charles County) in a letter dated March 9, 2011, citing problems with a boot camp in the early-90s that was “a torrent of petty thievery, felony theft, escapes and destruction of neighborhood properties.”
Kelly also called for a regional detention center to not be built in Waldorf at all.
“I believe it is now the turn of other Southern Maryland counties to host this facility. We will be happy to lend a hand in whatever manner you may deem appropriate," the letter reads.
Kelly also sent a letter to Jerry Dalsey, the former president of the White Oak Homeowner Association, regarding the state’s inability to communicate their plans to build the detention center with him. Dalsey was infuriated at public hearings about the lack of communication from the state. Kelly told Dalsey there would be a public hearing hosted by the county about the detention center and said the Charles County Delegation would attend. Kelly, however, did not attend.
“We found a good location that was in an industrial park and seemed to be a much better location that would work,” Kelly said in a phone interview with The BayNet on Thursday night. “You do not have all the emails associated with it. That location seemed to be a good location for it. My support always predicated on full disclosure and grassroots work with the communities associated with it,. That's the bottom line.
“I waited for the community to weigh in and when I heard their feedback, I certainly supported the community. I support our youth and we have a responsibility to our youth. These are our kids, children to our Southern Maryland parents. They deserve someone to stand up for them. If this isn't the right location, I will support the Secretary in finding the right location because I consider that my job. I facilitate getting things done. I don’t stand in the way of progress; I try to make things happen. When our citizens said no, I supported them.
“As far as my speaking, I have every right to speak and I have evidence that every commissioner knew about these communications. I don't hide behind waiting to see which way the wind is going to blow. These kids deserve a place their parents can visit them and where their support groups can be there for them.
“I have never wavered. I support Secretary Abed. I support the hard work state employees who work in the DJS. It's a tough job. There may be people in this world who want to cast aside people who made mistakes, I'm a mother and I will not cast people aside. We'll find ap lace for them and we'll find a place where their loved ones can visit and support them. Someone has to stand up for kids who have had a rough time.
“I'm embarrassed with our elected officials wouldn't do that.  I stand by everything I've done. How is it I seem to always know what's going on while some of my colleagues don't know what's happening. I'm on top of things and have been on top of things since the day I've been sworn in and will continue to do so. I'm proud of that, proud of our county.”
On Thursday evening, Kelly sent The BayNet more emails that were not included in the documents received earlier in the day.
"I want to personally thank you for your willingness to assist Secretary Abed in his efforts to inform the community," Kelly said to Dalsey in an email.  "You have been a true leader and, while advocating for your community, you are demonstrating a willingness to work with DJS as they attempt to bring accurate information to your membership and the citizens in the area of the proposed facility.  It's important that we do the right thing and not simply react and because of your leadership, Secretary Abed can make sure that we make every possible effort to communicate the facts as he determines the feasibility of the proposed sight for our youth.  Again, thank you Jerry.  I am sincerely impressed with your leadership and your efforts to support and improve our community."
Kelly said the emails "shows that I was working to foster communications".
During a briefing on the proposal in July 2011, Collins had expressed concern and called for multiple public meetings and public hearing to be held before the state continued with the plan. Several residents did not hear about the public hearings until they read about them in various local media outlets. Abed told The Bay Net it is not DJS policy to announce a public meeting until about a week before the meeting is held and a date is finalized.
Kelly, along with the entire board and the entire Charles County Delegation, came out in opposition to the plan after overwhelming public opposition was expressed at multiple public hearings.
Concerns that Kelly has repeatedly testified or sent communications on behalf of the Charles County Board of Commissioners without their knowledge led to the passage of Resolution 2012-18 on April 10, 2012.
This is a developing story, The BayNet will have more information as it becomes available.


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