Wicomico County State’s Attorney calls for more accountability for juveniles
SALISBURY, Md – Wicomico County State’s Jamie Dykes is criticizing new restrictions placed upon law enforcement in their ability to charge minors of 13 with nonviolent crime or interrogate minors of any crime without parents or lawyers present, saying a recent report from the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services on increase juvenile violent crime is a direct result.
“We are all left to hold the bag locally, we are the ones that are trying to keep people in our communities safe, And we can’t do that without tools,” she said.
Department of Juvenile Services Director Vincent Schiraldi tells 47ABC the report found that a drop in arrests among those ages 13 and under coincided with increased uptake in the Children In Need of Supervision system, which can connect kids with social services.
“These laws were carefully considered by the legislature they studied it for two years before passing, and they found more damage is done by drawing 11-year-olds into the system than by the occasional case that might frustrate some people, And the data has born that out we see recidivism rates are down and the number of kids being referred to services is up sevenfold,” Schiraldi tells 47ABC.
But Dykes says the system has another option, known as “Resolved at Intake” where children are returned to parents or guardians without intervention.
She tells us she believes the number of times that happens is higher than is being reported by the state.
She tells us serious offenses including Assault in the 2nd Degree and Rape can be resolved at intake.
“These are real crimes with real victims,” she said.
Dykes tells us she understands that her office would not be exposed to cases of successful interventions but she believes there needs to be more accountability for those with repeated infractions before they turn violent.
“That is conduct that seems to perpetuate, especially when there is no accountability for that first one, the second one, the third one, and the 13th one, and yes, we have seen cases where has been involved with very young children who have 13 resolved at in intakes,” she said adding ” when that child commits their first shooting or their first homicide, we are asking what was done, what was done? Nothing, because there were 13 opportunities for the Department of Juvenile Services to do something and get it right.”
Dykes says she believes cases like that can leave law enforcement with low motivation to take kids in the CINS system, while agreeing with DJS that adult prison may not be the best option even for violent juvenile offenders.
“Would I support something less than adult prison absolutely I would,” she said.
She tells 47ABC that she believes more intervention from law enforcement can prevent violent crime.
“If we keep the small things small, we never get to the big issues. I don’t have confidence given what I have seen happen with juvenile services and resolve that intakes that there is any meaningful change in behavior,” she said.