The recent spike in carjacking crimes in Prince George’s County, Maryland, has been marked by an alarming increase in youth crime. While there has been criticism against supporting the early release of first-time juvenile offenders who may commit more crimes, the numbers tell a different story.
“We have seen over the past year, or the past couple of years, a pretty significant, I think, increase in the number of serious cases that we’re seeing involving our young people,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy told a county council committee this week.
But it’s not just a few juveniles driving that increase.
Braveboy said that “out of those 290 cases (her office has handled this year), there were 228 juveniles who were unique, meaning they did not have any prior offenses.”
“About 10% of them had prior offenses and 90% of them were first-time respondents in the juvenile system,” she added.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a review of state studies found re-arrest rates for youth within 1 year of release averaged 55%, while reincarceration and reconfinement rates averaged 24%.
While the recidivism rate for Prince George’s County youth offenders may be lower than the national average, the seriousness of the crimes they are committing is still a major concern.
Capt. Michael Nolle with Prince George’s County Police Department said that carjacking and auto thefts have been “the big thing that we’re dealing with.”
Nolle said that, for the period of Jan. 1 to Sept. 14, “countywide arrests for carjacking are up 152%,” compared to the same time period last year.
He said, in many cases, it’s teens and crews running back and forth between the District and Prince George’s County, targeting communities that live near the border.
Nolle said police in both jurisdictions are frequently chasing after the same suspects.
“It’s not like they’re being sold or taken to a chop shop, or something like that,” he said. “Part of it seems like they’ll take that vehicle [and] use it to commit other crimes.”
Nolle said offenders caught driving a stolen car are often arrested for separate crimes. In many cases, it is difficult to prove whether that offender was a part of the original carjacking.
Braveboy told the council that, of the 58 juveniles arrested for carjacking in 2022, 33 of them have been found “involved,” which is the equivalent of a guilty verdict in the juvenile justice system.
Ten of those youths have been put into either some form of jail or detention, or “given some type of placement,” said Braveboy. The other 23 have been given probation.
Out of remaining, 23 are still pending a resolution, one more offender is wanted after not showing up for trial, and one saw the charges dropped for a lack of evidence.
“We pursue these cases. We are successful in pursuing these cases,” said Braveboy.