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Maryland governor unveils legislation addressing juvenile crime

February 1st, 2024 by WCBC Radio

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Democratic leaders unveiled legislation Wednesday to address the rise in juvenile crime. The measure doesn’t increase the number of offenses where juveniles are charged as adults, but Moore said it fixes problems in the system. “We need to rethink how cases are processed for young people when there is a firearm involved. We need to increase probation when kids need more time to benefit from rehabilitation. We need to be able to respond to situations where children take the life of a person, regardless of age,” Moore said.

The bill increases probation for juveniles convicted of felonies from 2 to 4 years. It also expands the crimes where 10-12 year-olds can be charged with to include third-degree sex offense, car theft and weapons possession.
“It is refreshing to see an acknowledgment that some of these recent juvenile justice reforms have gone too far,” House Minority Leader Jason Buckel said in a news release. “Reinstating the Department of Juvenile Service’s jurisdiction over 10 to 12-year-olds found in the possession of firearms is an issue we championed last year and continue to advocate for. We are encouraged to see our colleagues take up this issue and expand it to other serious crimes. It is our collective responsibility to do the best we can to keep our children and communities safe.”

Republican caucus issued a statement supporting the reform measures: “So many of these issues come down to accountability and consequences, and it’s encouraging to see this is one of the main focuses of this legislation at the start.”
The bill was introduced Wednesday. The governor expects it to land on his desk where he vows to sign it. It would go into effect in October.