Victory for Maryland Youth Advocates

Just Kids Movie ScreeningThe Just Kids Partnership seeks to ‘gather information and promote the discussion of effectively addressing crime allegedly committed by Maryland youth’.  Campaign Consultation selected the Just Kids Partnership as a GIVE 5 recipient in 2011, and this week we are featuring a guest post telling the story of their recent victory protecting juveniles in the Maryland justice system.

After years of community opposition, organizing and advocacy the state has decided to not move forward with the construction of the proposed Baltimore City jail that would have housed youth charged as adults. This is a huge victory for the youth advocacy community and a much needed step as advocates focus on changing policies and practices that impact how youth are treated in the criminal justice system.

This fight began in 2010 when an alliance of over 30 organizations formed to organize against the proposed jail that would house youth who are charged as adults. The alliance knew that the construction of the proposed jail would have been harmful to youth, detrimental to public safety, and with an initial price tag of almost $100 million dollars, a huge waste of tax payer dollars. The jail was only intended to house a specific population; youth arrested in Baltimore city who were between the ages of 14 to 17 and accused of any of the 33 offenses that required them to be automatically charged as an adult. Fighting against the jail allowed the alliance to organize around an actual brick and mortar structure that represented the flawed policy of automatically charging youth as adults.

Charging youth as adults does not work. Research found that almost 70% of youth in Baltimore who are initially charged as adults end up being released or having their cases sent to a juvenile system, after spending on average 5 months in jail pretrial. Only 7% of youth initially charged as adults received any adult prison time. The investment in the proposed jail would have been an investment in those ineffective policies.

What made this victory possible was the work of the youth led alliance to create grassroots support, form a legislative strategy, and launch a media campaign against the proposed jail.  Youth who were charged as adults were the key spokes people and were engaged in all parts of the campaign, from planning legislative strategy to leading meeting with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Department of Juvenile Service. The alliance stayed focused on their goal and succeeded. This win paves the way for future victories for the youth advocates to change the way youth are treated in the criminal justice system.

Take Action:  To keep up with the campaign like our Facebook page

Upcoming Event:  Movie Screening “Young Kids, Hard Time” Febuary 12th 5:00-7:00 Govens Branch  Library 5714 Bellona Ave.  Baltimore Md 21212

 

Kara Aanenson

Director of Advocacy Initiatives

Just Kids Partnership

Community Law in Action

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Andrea Perri

I came to Campaign Consultation with a strong background in social work and community organizing. I am also a former Peace Corps health volunteer who served in The Gambia working on maternal and child health care projects.In my role as Project Specialist, I assist with project research, content development and other support for the Social Innovation Fund, George Washington University Freshman Day of Service and other projects.Read more.

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