From State Sen. Bob Cassilly:
I was disappointed to see the Maryland Senate reject a bill (SB197) this week that would have added the crime of attempted armed carjacking to the list of violent crimes that must be publicly charged in the adult system and not hidden in the secretive juvenile system. Attempted armed carjacking, a crime of increasing frequency, involves physically threatening another person with a gun or other weapon in an attempt to steal their car. It is a very traumatic experience with long term impacts on victims, leaving them fearful, demoralized, and depressed. It undermines the effectiveness of our criminal justice system to process such heinous acts as just one more of the mere juvenile mistakes normally handled in the juvenile courts.
Charging a crime as either “juvenile” or “adult” has major consequences for the public, the victim, and the perpetrator. Charging a crime in the adult system means that the public and the press know about and can follow the crime in the public media. It also means the courts can impose and publicize appropriate punishment to deter others from similar behavior. By contrast, when the crime is prosecuted in the juvenile system, the prosecution is shielded from the public, the crime disappears from public scrutiny, and no punishment can be imposed and publicized to deter others from terrorizing their communities; the juvenile system allows only rehabilitation, not punishment.
Public scrutiny and appropriate punishment are essential to the proper working of our system of justice. While we do not want a system that overly criminalizes every stupid thing a young person might do, there is a huge difference between the stupidity it takes for a juvenile to steal a car and the shear evil it takes for a juvenile to inflict terror and permanent mental scarring upon an innocent person.
Last year former Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on which I serve. I asked Commissioner Davis to explain the dramatic increase in violent crime by juveniles. His response was that there are no consequences for bad behavior for juveniles in Baltimore. Effective public scrutiny of our criminal justice system enables society to demand appropriate consequences for bad behavior.
To share your views on these and any other topics I can be reached by email at Bob.Cassilly@senate.state.md.us. You can also follow the hearings and voting on these bills and more online at www.mgaleg.maryland.gov.
Very Truly Yours,
Senator, District 34