Last month we told you that Governor O’Malley’s administration will not spend a total of $100 million to build a 120-bed jail for youth who are charged as adults. Instead, state officials will spend up to $30 million to renovate an existing facility to house up to 60 of these young people. We applaud the tireless efforts of Baltimore’s youth, community activists and OSI-Baltimore grantees who fought for three years to stop the construction of the new jail.
But the fight isn’t over. We will continue our efforts to persuade Maryland policymakers to end the practice of charging youth as adults. This change makes sense as the majority of children charged as adults in Baltimore City (70%) have their cases dismissed or sent to the more appropriate juvenile justice system. And, national research shows that youth prosecuted as adults are more likely to commit future crimes than youth whose cases are handled in the juvenile court system.
At OSI-Baltimore, we are working hard to improve public safety and ensure that our children have the support—including age-appropriate programs and services and second chances—they need to succeed. The decision not to invest scarce public funds in the building of a new jail for youth is an important step in the right direction, and we celebrate it. But, our work continues to achieve real change. Please join us.