Juvenile justice reformers in Maryland are raising concerns that there is no minimum age in the state for prosecuting youthful offenders.
The Juvenile Justice Reform Council, created by the General Assembly last year, met in an online session Thursday to discuss the youngest cases in which juveniles are introduced to the state’s justice system.
In the online meeting, the panel reviewed analysis that showed nearly 19,000 young people came in contact with the state’s juvenile justice system last year and 10% — roughly 1,900 — of those were under age 13.
“For those under the age of 13, these young people that are coming into contact with the system, have a higher likelihood of being black and a higher likelihood of being girls,” said Celina Cuevas research consultant, Vera Institute of Justice.
Cuevas said Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties were the counties with the most share of under-13 juvenile offenders accounting for about 30% of all cases.
Cuevas also told the panel the most common offenses for under-age-13 juveniles are misdemeanor assaults and thefts.
The vast majority of these cases are not prosecuted in the state, but the panel was told that even when youthful offenders under 13 don’t face the justice system, some juvenile services are available to them.
Members of the panel expressed concern that there is no minimum age in Maryland for prosecuting children accused of crimes. The panel is next scheduled to meet Sept. 17.