WASHINGTON – Maryland
U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski today introduced legislation that would transfer portions of the 800-acre Oak Hill property, which houses the District of Columbia's juvenile detention facility, to the National Park Service, Anne Arundel County, and the Secretary of the Army.
As a member of the U.S. House, Mr. Cardin first introduced legislation to relocate the Oak Hill facility in 2004. The detention facility currently houses approximately 60 juveniles, and is in such severe disrepair that it needs to be torn down.
"There is no dispute that the Oak Hill facility is a disgrace and must come down. This bill is a win-win for everyone involved. It would provide the children in the D.C. juvenile justice system with a new facility closer to their families, and it would give back to the surrounding community a substantial portion of land," said Sen. Cardin.
"I am proud to join my colleague Senator Cardin in fighting for the funding necessary to build a new and improved facility to house youth offenders in Washington, D.C. I have been very concerned with recent reports about the state of the current detention center. I will work in the Senate for this federal investment to build a safer and more secure environment for both detainees and the surrounding community," said Senator Mikulski.
The legislation would:
- Transfer a small portion of the property located west of the Baltimore-Washington (B-W) Parkway to the National Park Service for use as parkland;
- Transfer the portion of property east of the B-W Parkway and north of the Patuxent River to the Secretary of the Army for use by the National Security Agency (NSA); and,
- Transfer the portion of property east of the B-W Parkway and south of the Patuxent River to Rt. 198 to Anne Arundel County.
The bill would impose certain conditions on the transfer of land. The current detention facility would be closed and a new one built within the District of Columbia. Anne Arundel County would be required to dedicate a portion of the property adjacent to the Patuxent River for parkland and recreational use. If Anne Arundel County develops a significant area of the remainder of the property for other than parkland or recreational use, it would be required to reimburse the federal government the costs of the District of Columbia's new juvenile facility.
Oak Hill is a maximum-security detention facility for juvenile offenders from the District between the ages of 14 to 21. Built in 1967, Oak Hill's location is a result of a 1923 federal government land grant to the District of Columbia, and federal legislation is necessary to transfer the land.