What is the automatic prosecution of youth as adults?

Under current law, youth between the ages of 14 and 17 who are accused of one of 33 offenses are automatically charged as adults.  This decision is made upon arrest, based solely on age and alleged charge, and well before a judge has looked at the individual circumstances of the alleged crime or the background of the youth.

Reports show that most youth in the adult system do not belong there. Almost 60% of youth’s cases are eventually either dismissed or moved to the juvenile system. Furthermore, studies have found that charging youth as adults does not does not deter crime or make communities any safer. A youth in the adult system is 3X more likely to reoffend than a youth in the juvenile system.

Where are youth charged as adults housed?

The majority of youth charged as adults are housed in juvenile detention centers while they await their transfer hearing. During the 2015 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation to remove most youth from adult jails. Check out the bill here.

How should we treat our youth charged as adults?

All youth, regardless of their charge, should start in the juvenile court system.  A judge should determine whether a youth belongs in the adult or juvenile system.

Be a youth justice hero! Check out this fact sheet (there’s 2 pages) about how youth automatically end up in the adult criminal justice system and how to change it. Then, click the button below to receive action alerts so that you can help.

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