Juvenile arrests in Baltimore are down overall since 2012 but juvenile arrests for violent crime have increased, according to a study released Thursday by the Abell Foundation. The study calls on public agencies to be more transparent about data on youth charged with violent crimes.
Despite the increase in juvenile arrests for violent crime, only a small number of youth are charged as adults for such crimes, the study found. The percentage of juvenile cases where the defendant was charged as an adult, only to have the case transferred back to juvenile court, increased from 19 percent in 2013 to 67 percent last year, according to the study.
The Abell Foundation conducted the study in response to public perceptions about the increase in juvenile violence in Baltimore.
“We wanted to know if juvenile violent crime was, in fact, on the rise. And, relatedly, we wanted to understand what happened to those young people charged with committing violent acts,” said Abell Foundation President Robert C. Embry Jr. in a statement. “Is the system responding appropriately? There is a lot of discussion about that, and we thought those discussions would be improved by better access to facts.”
But whether cases are transferred back to juvenile court largely depends on a small number of judges in a process the study describes as “not very transparent.”
“Most of the data we uncovered in researching this report is not readily available,” said Sheryl Goldstein, the foundation’s vice president. “Youth violence is an extremely important issue in Baltimore. The public and policymakers should know a lot more about it than they do. This type of information should be more accessible.”