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The State of Maryland wanted to build its first female-specific youth detention center. To accomplish this goal, the State relied on CGL’s AOR Justice team, (now NELSON Worldwide), expertise to help them identify how girls differ from boys, such as the differences in socialization and responses to trauma. The team helped Maryland understand these critical differences, working with the State to develop a facility that is gender-sensitive in both operations and design. Prior to designing the new 48-bed girls detention facility, our team was tasked with validating the Department of Juvenile Services’ (DJS) Space Program.


Since this is the first facility built by the State of Maryland that is specifically for female youth, the State looked to NELSON to ensure a gender-sensitive operational and design response. The project’s guiding principles were impeccable safety, clear sight lines, effective site usage, a sense of sanctuary, ample sunlight, calming atmospheres, and a therapeutic environment. CGL developed a cost-effective plan for this facility’s construction on a challenging, rural hillside. The result is revolutionary for Maryland: a 72-bed facility, divided into 15-bed housing units, that addresses the unique needs of female youth. Key amenities include an elaborate educational area, courtyard with planting beds, access to sunlight and the outdoors, pleasant visiting space, dining area, infirmary, and cosmetology suite. CGL worked closely with the State to ensure the facility accomplished their goals while staying within budget.