Five years after Jabriera Handy was charged with murdering her grandmother, the 22-year-old sits on a Maryland task force that assesses how criminal offenses committed by juveniles are handled in the state, reports Southern Maryland Online. At 16, Handy was accused of killing 69-year-old Eunice Taylor – leading to 11 months in the Baltimore City Detention Center for a crime she was never convicted of.
More than two-thirds of youth whose cases originate in the adult criminal justice system in Maryland are either transferred to the juvenile justice system or have their charges dismissed, says Kara Aanenson, a member of the Task Force on Juvenile Court Jurisdiction and director of advocacy initiatives for the Just Kids Partnership. The task force was established by the Maryland General Assembly this year to examine current law and review best practices for handling offenses committed by youth. “Our big concern is that kids are getting put in this adult system where they're more likely to be victimized, they're more likely to hurt themselves or someone else, they're more likely to be victimized by guards, when a majority of the kids are actually coming back to the juvenile system,” Aanenson said. Most youth wait up to an average of four months for a decision to be made about their case.