By Jeff Abell | Fox45 News • February 9, 2024 | Original Source
State's Attorneys from across Maryland asked lawmakers for relief from the state's crippling reform laws passed two years ago.
"The 12-year-old who walks into a school with a loaded gun and, suddenly, we look at the law and say 'oh, we can't do anything," said Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
At a hearing before Maryland's Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, proponents laid out their case for a bill aimed at reforming the juvenile justice system.
The measure would allow juveniles under the age of 13 to be prosecuted for certain firearm offenses, third degree sexual abuse, animal abuse and vehicle theft.
Currently, they are immune from prosecution for non-violent offenses.
"We're not rolling back everything but we're taking a look at some of the things we did and say, hey, this wasn't a good idea," said Shellenberger.
However, opponents suggest the bill is misguided and a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that needs deeper study.
"The biggest problem is programs for children who are in need of services, that's our problem," said Kinji Scott, former President of Maryland's Juvenile Justice Coalition.
"Bills like this punish youth instead of addressing the root cause," said a youth advocate.
A similar hearing was held in a House committee on Thursday.
Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee are expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday.