Chronic juvenile offenders from Baltimore regularly churn through Maryland’s justice system without receiving adequate help, city police officials said as they released an analysis intended to spark immediate reform, the Baltimore Sun reports. Example: One 17-year-old was arrested for auto theft, immediately released by state juvenile justice officials pending trial, arrested a month later on a drug distribution charge, let go again, arrested six days later on a drug charge, and released yet again. Less than a week later, he was arrested on a drug charge, detained briefly, released by the court, arrested the next month on a drug charge, and immediately let go again. That teenager was one of 27 juvenile offenders charged in Baltimore with five or more crimes in the first half of this year. “We’re doing our part in the criminal justice relay,” said police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark. “Where is the baton being dropped?
The study’s release follows Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s statement that police are contributing to crowding at the new Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center by making sweeps of arrests for petty crimes. Police officials said that’s not true because the state determines whether arrested juveniles are detained or released. Circuit Judge Martin Welch, in charge of city juvenile courts, said that because the study is of frequent offenders, it highlights only children who weren’t rehabilitated. “We’ve got to be careful not to paint the entire system as flawed just because we have this very small group of chronic offenders,” he said.