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Baltimore Mayor Pugh says crime 'out of control,' orders agencies to meet with police every morning

Luke Broadwater and Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

"There are a lot of privacy laws associated with juveniles who are arrested and charged with crimes, and we're going to work with our attorneys to figure out how we can share the identities of these violent young people with the school system in a legal way so they can attempt some interventions," Davis said. "Right now, their behaviors need to be interrupted. They either need to be interrupted with a jail cell or some other type of intervention. But the way we're doing it right now isn't working."

Santelises said some of the youths committing crimes have dropped out of school.

"One of the things we're working on is paying far closer attention to our chronic absentees," she said. "We are identifying: Who are the young people in each school who are most vulnerable to being recruited for criminal activity?"

Under Maryland law, 16- and 17-year-olds who are charged with violent crimes appear first in adult court. Davis has expressed frustration at the number of such cases that are then moved to juvenile court.

Police spokesman T.J. Smith said the percentage of such cases has "increased dramatically" in recent years.

"That's not saying juveniles have become less violent or less dangerous," he said. "They're just not prosecuting them as adults.

"We're not trying to over-criminalize anyone. But I think any victim in the city that has a gun stuck in their face by a 16-year-old kid, and their car taken from them, or they're beat up by this 16-year-old kid with a gun stuck in their face, want that child to be held accountable in some way, shape or form. And that child should not have an opportunity to stick that gun in the face of multiple individuals."

Davis said the rehabilitation-only focus of the juvenile justice system in Maryland is appropriate for mischief, destruction of property, trespassing or shoplifting. But "today's violent juvenile offender is robbing people, assaulting people, and carjacking people," he said, and "our lawmakers need to strengthen the consequences and lower the threshold for detention."

Police have arrested four juveniles in a Halloween night attack on a woman with a wooden board. Smith said a small group of young people are "disproportionately responsible for way too much of this type of violent crime."

In the carjacking Thursday morning, Davis said, the victim had just dropped his child off at school when "he was pinned by a suspect vehicle against his car."

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