We are members of the Core Alliance of Youth Leaders of Community Law in Action. Many of us have been charged as adults and held at the Baltimore City Detention Center, an adult jail.
An unthinking “lock ’em up” approach does not adequately serve either the youth involved in criminal cases or the larger society. Maryland decision makers should rethink the practice of prosecuting and sentencing youth as adults and appropriately deal with all criminal cases involving youth in the system created especially for them—the juvenile justice system.
Did you know that Maryland officials plan to spend almost $100 million dollars to build a new jail in Baltimore City? This jail would be used exclusively for youth, ages 14 through 17, who are arrested, charged as an adult and locked up as they wait for their trials to be held. In these hard economic times, we believe that a new jail is unnecessary and a waste of tax-payer dollars.
As I walk into the Baltimore City Detention Center for my weekly garden class, a guard remarks on how big the plants are getting. I place my belongings into a bin and get patted down, and another employee tells me about her own garden. I tell her about the direction of the program, and for better serving the juveniles locked up there, facing adult charges. When they get out, I hope to be able to provide them with community service options or assist them in getting jobs in the field of horticulture. My hope for the city is that we can use gardening in schools, churches, and transition environments to heal and build stronger and healthier communities.
According to the Just Kids Report, each year Maryland charges 1,250 youth as adults with little concern or attention to the stain this places on the life of a young person. Youth charged as adults are forced to carry the burden of a felony for the rest of their lives.
Just before the holidays, the Governor quietly submitted a letter to chairmen of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Committee on Appropriations. The letter includes a new recommendation that the State spend millions of dollars to build a 120-bed facility for youth under 18 charged as adults rather than a 180-bed facility, as originally planned.
Maryland automatically charges youth as adults for certain offenses and detains them in adult jails pretrial, before any finding of guilt. These practices don’t work to reduce crime or rehabilitate youth.
Since the beginning of time many groups have overcome situations where their advancement within the hierarchy of society was undermined. From women to racial groups, many have seemingly broken the “glass ceiling” looming over their heads. Yet I have a hard time believing teenagers facing the prospect of jail and prison as the only viable […]
Last month, 17-year-old Lamont Davis, was arrested and charged in the shooting of 5-year-old Raven Wyatt, who was hit by an errant bullet in a fight between two teens. Davis was wearing a home monitoring device when he was arrested and charged with the shooting. The July 2nd shooting of Raven Wyatt is a tragedy. […]
If we took the best ideas from across the world to Maryland, our state would be the best place for children and families in America. But this isn’t happening. For example, Missouri has developed the best model for rehabilitating delinquent youth. Youth are served in small, regional facilities; families are involved from the beginning. Recidivism […]