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Why juvenile justice legislation named in honor of slain Baltimore teen hasn't passed

Hannah Gaskill, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE — Gov. Wes Moore waded through hundreds of pieces of legislation and has signed over a thousand since the 2024 legislative session ended in April. But one juvenile justice bill sponsored in honor of a slain teen girl never saw ink from his ceremonial pen.

The NyKayla Strawder Memorial Act never even reached his desk.

NyKayla Strawder was 15 in 2022 when she was fatally shot on the porch outside of her West Baltimore home by a nine-year-old boy who had gained access to his grandmother’s gun.

For the second year in a row, legislation that would connect young children like the boy who shot her to diversionary and rehabilitative services failed to pass — this year because lawmakers were hard-pressed to pass a juvenile justice omnibus bill ahead of their deadline.

The NyKayla Strawder Memorial Act, or Senate Bill 2, would have required that cases in which children under 13 are alleged to have participated in an act that leads to the death of another be automatically forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Services.

DJS intake officers would have then moved forward with a Child in Need of Supervision, or CINS, petition.


CINS petitions are typically filed for children who are frequently absent from school, unable to be controlled by their guardians, a danger to themselves or others, or commit crimes that only apply to children, like underage drinking offenses.

In 2023, the legislation unanimously passed out of the Senate but stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

This year, Sen. Jill P. Carter’s bill honoring Strawder unanimously passed out of the Senate on March 4 — more than a month until the legislature adjourned.

But the House Judiciary Committee, which held the hearing for the bill, didn’t vote it out to the floor until the last day of session, on April 8. At breakneck speed, the House pushed the legislation back over to the Senate, which neglected to give the bill final approval before their midnight deadline.


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