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  • Writer's pictureScott Shellenberger

Calls for change from Maryland General Assembly on juvenile justice laws

By Maxine Streicher | Fox 45 Baltimore • July 13, 2023 | Original Source

BALTIMORE (WBFF) — The state’s top prosecutors are calling for change from the Maryland General Assembly.

“I think without question over the last several years the general assembly has changed a number of the laws that deal with juvenile crime and I think that’s certainly led to some problems,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

We reached out to every State’s Attorney in Maryland with a series of questions including:

  • Do you believe the Maryland General Assembly has made it difficult for your office to hold juveniles accountable for criminal acts?

  • Do you support the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2022 and the Child Interrogation Protection act of 2022? Why or why not?

Of the 24 State’s Attorney’s, 10 answered our questions and all of them agreed the general assembly has made it more difficult to hold juveniles accountable.

“They know nothing is really going to happen to them if they keep their crime in a certain limit of types of crimes,” said Shellenberger.

Under the Juvenile Justice Reform Act passed last year, those 13 and under are limited to charges for crimes of violence, and a juvenile under 10 cannot be charged.

The law also calls for six months’ probation for juveniles who commit adult misdemeanors and one-year probation for juveniles who commit adult felonies.

“That may not be enough time to help them with the things that they need,” said Shellenberger.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger agree their hands are tied.

Also weighing in Carroll County, State’s Attorney Haven Shoemaker telling us in a statement, “Both the quantity and severity of juvenile crime is escalating, not just in Maryland but across the country. Juvenile criminal coddling is not the answer.”

Wicomico County State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes said, “Both pieces of legislation inhibit accountability and put our youth at higher risk of being victims of and committing violence.”

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy saying in part, “It appears that the emphasis has been on putting more juvenile offenders under the care of DJS, but it hasn’t been provided the resources needed, which means juveniles who commit criminal acts are not getting effective services.”

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott also weighing in Thursday when we asked if he thought the juvenile justice laws on the books needed to change.

“You know I think something needs to change. I had a bill in Annapolis this year around home monitoring and the notification around home monitoring,” he said. “Noone, a juvenile or adult should be able to be outside of where they’re supposed to be for 48 hours before getting a notification. If someone breaks that they should be able to be detained by law enforcement. What I am going to do is go back this session and work with our Governor to make sure we are changing anything that needs to be changed, but my focus is going to be on those I know are allowing crimes to be committed against those juveniles and by them.”

Advocates of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act argue criminalizing children doesn’t improve public safety.

We’re still waiting to hear back from 14 State’s Attorney’s.


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