Maryland Juvenile Services report finds juvenile crime down overall, despite spikes in violent crimes, car thefts
MARYLAND – A report released by the Maryland Juvenile Services report finds that crime among juveniles is down 15 percent compared to 2020, but found serious spikes in violent crimes, car thefts, and carjackings.
Carjackings were found to have increased by 85 percent while violent crimes rose by 220 percent.
Law enforcement say they believe the drop in overall crime is due to underreporting, citing new legislation in the Maryland General Assembly that prevents police from being able to charge minors under 13, as well as additional restrictions on police interacting with minors ages 13-18.
The report tracked data using a combination of arrests, and complaints but Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis says he believes many incidents involving juveniles are not being tracked.
“They’re not arrested, they’re detained, there’s a difference in being detained for investigative purposes and being arrested, we have a right to detain someone for investigative purposes, but once we learn that they’re not of age, that they’re 12 years of age or under, we simply drop them home to mom and dad,” said Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis.
During a Maryland House Judiciary Committee hearing on the report Wednesday, Secretary of Juvenile Services Vincent Schiraldi highlighted in a rise in juveniles admitted to a new system known as Children in Need of Supervisions (CINS), where police can defer those juveniles that connects them with social services and other help at the discretion of the department.
Schiraldi says his department is raising awareness that police have that option.
“I really think [Police] thought nothing could be done, and just that’s just not true.,so we went and explained to them to refer a kid to us, because you can’t arrest them, just because we can’t detain them doesn’t mean we can’t help them,” he said.
Schiraldi says the system can work faster to process kids compared to the justice system, as there is no involvement of attorneys or criminal charges, adding that it is also increasing positive outcomes for many of those who have been deferred to it.
He says the juvenile laws have also helped to put more kids in that system, with better results.
“The recidivism rates are down, they’re down for kids coming out of the facilities, they’re good for kids who get diverted and they are lower for kids who get returned to us from adult courts who are automatically charged as adults,” Schiraldi said citing a 15 percent recidivism rate for juveniles on average in the CINS system.
He says he understands that even with an assessment tool used by Juvenile Services to determine if a child is charged, sent into the CINS, or discharged, police can feel as though kids are getting away with a crime.
“We are seeing in some of the cases where it was dismissed the burden of evidence was just not there, and of course, police who arrest someone think they committed the crime,” Schiraldi said adding that his department is not perfect when making those judgment calls on who gets charged, sent to CINS or home.