Baltimore, MD - Feb. 12, 2024:
Dear Baltimore Community,
Over the last year, I have heard from many constituents concerning crimes committed in our communities by juveniles. Many have also expressed concerns about previous legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly that they believe is contributing to this violence.
I just want to tell you all: I hear you.
So far this session, I filed multiple pieces of legislation geared towards reducing juvenile crime in our communities. A significant portion of the legislation has already received support from the Governor, Speaker of the House of Delegates, and Senate President. All of the legislation has had hearings, and I am looking forward to them receiving the full support of the Maryland General Assembly and becoming law.
Here is a brief synopsis of the legislation that I filed:
1. We are finding that juveniles charged with crimes of violence, unlawful possession of firearms, and motor vehicle thefts are being released immediately by intake officers in the Department of Juvenile Services. The legislation I filed would ensure that the law does not allow for this to happen.
As specified in the legislation, any juvenile arrested after stealing a vehicle, committing any crime of violence, or illegally possessing a firearm, will be required to be brought before a Magistrate or Judge within 24 hours of their arrest. At that time, the Judge will make the determination as to the juvenile’s pretrial status.
2. Under the current system, juveniles are being placed on home electronic monitoring and are violating the restrictions on their movements. Many times, the appropriate individuals are not receiving notification of these violations, which may lead to juveniles committing additional crimes while on electronic monitoring.
The legislation I filed would require the Department of Juvenile Service to notify the Court, State’s Attorney, and Defense Attorney of violations within 24 hours of the violation. The appropriate consequences can then be determined.
3. Many times, the Department of Juvenile Services is taking weeks, if not longer, to notify the State’s Attorney about crimes being committed by juveniles. This is especially prevalent with car thefts. The State’s Attorney noted that their office is sometimes only finding out about a car theft once it’s the third or fourth time the juvenile steals a car.
The legislation I filed would therefore require the Department of Juvenile Service to forward all felony and firearm related offenses to the State’s Attorney’s Office. It does not leave room for discretion in these instances by the Department.
4. Previous legislation passed did not allow for juveniles under 13 years of age to be charged with certain crimes. I filed legislation that would change this law and allow for children age 10 and above to be charged with firearm offenses, possession with intent to distribute narcotics, and certain violent offenses, among others.
5. Currently, the length of probation a Magistrate or Judge can sentence a juvenile to is limited. This ties the hands of those trying to ensure juveniles are not becoming repeat offenders. I filed legislation that would let the Magistrate or Judge determine the length of probation and would allow for accountability if a juvenile violates their probation.
Keeping our communities safe continues to be a priority of mine. Change does not happen overnight, and it is a multi-faceted process. I have sponsored other pieces of legislation, in addition to the juvenile-related ones mentioned above and have been working with stakeholders on finding ways to reduce crime as a whole – not just juvenile-related crime.
I look forward to all the policies that I have introduced becoming law and our communities becoming safer for all Marylanders.
Thank you for your continued support.
Delegate Dalya Attar