By Martin O’Malley
Today’s front-page Sun article about the ongoing challenges in reforming Maryland’s juvenile justice system omitted one central fact: the number of juvenile victims of violent crime – both homicides and non-fatal shootings – has been driven down significantly since 2007.
Over the past five years, an improved Department of Juvenile Services, in close collaboration with law enforcement, has driven down juvenile homicides by 32 percent statewide. During our Administration, DJS and law enforcement have broken down traditional barriers and achieved an unprecedented level of information sharing. Over the past five years, DJS and law enforcement have achieved a 53 percent decrease in the number of youth killed who ever had any contact with the Department of Juvenile Services, and a 60 percent decrease in homicides of youth under DJS supervision.
Even more dramatic has been the drop in non-fatal shootings of youth in Baltimore City. Together, Baltimore City Police and a better-functioning DJS drove down non-fatal shootings by 67 percent from 2007 to 2011. We continue to focus on at-risk youth through the juvenile Violence Prevention Initiative, a data-driven tool our Administration created to identify and appropriately supervise youth at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime. Through the Violence Prevention Initiative, Operation Safe Kids, the use of GPS monitoring, and continued collaboration with law enforcement, our Administration works every day to protect the citizens – including the children – of our State. While the article shows that there is still work to be done in some DJS facilities, I am confident that Secretary Abed’s reform plans will help continue to move DJS forward.
Overlooked in The Sun story on juvenile justice is public safety – and in particular, the safety of Maryland’s children.