In the 1990's, the Maryland legislature passed legislation that mandated waiver to adult-court jurisdiction for juveniles charged with 14 specified serious crimes; this study presents data and analysis relevant to the impact of this legislation on the State's justice system and the juveniles affected by the legislation.
Maryland has developed five legislative criteria for judicial decisions regarding a waiver or reverse-waiver hearing: age, mental and physical health, amenability to treatment, crime seriousness/role in the crime, and public safety. This study obtained data on the number of juveniles affected by the waiver process and waiver processing time, how youths processed in the juvenile justice system differed from those processed in the adult system, and how the process of determining jurisdiction in a juvenile case was implemented within courtroom workgroups across counties. These issues were addressed through multiple data sources that included interviews, file reviews, and automated data. The study found that 243 inmates under 18 years old at intake were housed in Maryland jails on August 25, 2000. Only half of the jails surveyed (n=12) housed these youths separate from the adult jail population. The 3 facilities that housed most of the juveniles (n=155), however, maintained separate housing for juveniles; 19 of 23 jails allowed juveniles and adults to have contact with one another through meals and other activities. In addition, 18 of 23 jails had youths and adults attending treatment and/or education classes together. This report recommends eliminating the co-mingling of juveniles and adults in jails. Of 104 youths studied, 71 spent an average of 183 days awaiting disposition from the time of their arrest. The report recommends reducing the number of days juveniles must wait in an adult facility for a jurisdictional hearing. The study also developed profiles for the juveniles involved in four pathway categories: at-risk, reverse waived, waived, and legislatively waived. The analysis notes the major difference between the various categories of juveniles and identifies areas of concern and need for further research. Among the findings were that the majority of the juveniles were Black in disproportion to representation in the general population of the State and were from urban counties. Legislatively waived youths were more likely to have had or witnessed serious injury and were more likely to have been exposed to trauma, indicating a need for mental health evaluation and services. One recommendation stemming from this data is that all youths begin processing in the juvenile justice system, but with a presumption of waiver for legislative-waiver offenses. This would allow judicial review of each juvenile prior to being included in the waiver process. An increase in mental health services is recommended for youths in both juvenile and adult facilities. The study also examined the similarities and differences in the waiver and reverse-waiver process at the county level. The overall conclusion of the study is that if action is not taken to deal with the extraordinary number of juveniles legislatively waived in Maryland each year, the State will continue to put 1,000 youths per year into adult facilities where there are very few services tailored to their needs. These juveniles will eventually be released from adult facilities into the community absent any benefits from rehabilitative treatment, thus compromising public safety. 11 tables, 4 figures, and 29 references
Date Published: December 1, 2000
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