Prosecutors statewide say juveniles need to be held more accountable for crime
By Maxine Streicher | Fox 45 Baltimore • July 16, 2023 | Original Source
BALTIMORE, (WBFF) - — Nearly a dozen top prosecutors across the state of Maryland say their hands are tied when it comes to holding juvenile offenders accountable.
They say two laws are to blame and something needs to change fast.
“They know nothing is really going to happen to them if they keep their crime in a certain limit of types of crimes,” 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, ten answered our questions and all of them agreed the general assembly has made it more difficult to hold juveniles accountable.
"What I will tell you is that we need to do something fast, quick and in a hurry. Juveniles understand that nothing will happen to them,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates.
It’s the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2022 and the Child Interrogation Protection Act they think are letting juveniles get away with crime with little to no consequence.
In Calvert County State’s Attorney Robert Harvey told FOX45 he doesn’t support either law. He said “Juveniles need to know that they are going to be held accountable for their actions. “
The law calls for six months’ probation for juveniles who commit adult misdemeanors and one-year probation for juveniles who commit adult felonies.
Harvey said “These time frames are not sufficient to deter conduct, do not in many cases reflect the seriousness of offenses committed by juveniles, and do not allow for the provision of services that juveniles often require.”
In Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith says his office testified against both bills.
He says the laws make it difficult to hold young people accountable to the extent necessary for public safety adding “Rehabilitation measures for youth have been reduced significantly, and accountability has been substantially diminished as well. Unless the crimes are very serious, the courts have no ability to require rehabilitation or treatment. The juvenile system has become one of voluntary engagement with little enforcement mechanisms.”
Advocates of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act argue criminalizing children doesn’t improve public safety.