Maryland: A Case Study Against Automatically Charging Youth As Adults

Key Points

Depending on age, there are over 30 circumstances enumerated in the Maryland code under which youths are to be charged as if they were adults.
This practice directly contradicts the well-known legal objectives for children in the justice system: public safety, accountability, and “competency and character development to assist children in becoming responsible and productive members of society.”
To bring about positive change on this issue, we recommend Maryland policymakers consider trimming the list of offenses for which youth are to automatically charged in the adult system, remove “once an adult, always an adult” statutes, and expand opportunities for reverse waivers.

Treating and punishing youth like adults ignores developmental research so critical to effectively promoting the transformation of youth behavior and the preservation of public safety. It also restricts the ability of juvenile court judges to decide what form of accountability most fits an individual case.

Press release: R Street Policy Short No. 76: Maryland: A Case Study Against Automatically Charging Youths as Adults

Image credit: woraatep suppavas


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