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2023 MACo Winter Conference Included Juvenile Justice Reform


Moderator Senator Jill P. Carter and Lawrence Scott, Cecil County Attorney


written courtesy of Sara Sample

Thirty Four Enterprises LLC's youth program, "Media 101 For Our Youth", was invited to participate in the semi-annual legislation gathering.


Hosted by Maryland State Senator Jill P. Carter, a panel of local officials came together on the first day of the 2023 MACO (Maryland Association of Counties) Winter Conference to discuss juvenile crime in Maryland. The panel brought together a group of local departments to share their feedback on how implementation of the new policies has gone. Representatives from county law offices, law enforcement, county social services, and county citizen services divisions shared feedback.


Lawrence Scott, the Cecil County Attorney, described changes from both the Juvenile Justice Reform Act and the Child Interrogation Protection Act. He reiterated that despite challenges, the changes are here to stay and finding a way to work through the issues should be a priority. Chief Russell Hamill from Laurel went on to share how implementation on the ground has gone for law enforcement and agreed that while there are additional barriers to gathering vital information better education and information from the State to local law enforcement would help.


Social services and citizen services experts on the panel included Prince George’s County Social Services attorney, Milton McIver, and Cecil County Citizens Services Director, David Trolio. Both of their divisions make referrals to and receive referrals from the Department of Juvenile Services and law enforcement. Feedback included concerns that changes in the law compromise accountability for youth with decriminalization and concerns that services need to evolve to meet greater diversification needs and a changing population. When asked about any legislative changes the moderator, Senator Jill P. Carter, reiterated the importance of making sure education and training for all local teams is properly undertaken before the law can be assessed effectively.


Speakers:

  • Lawrence Scott – Cecil County Attorney

  • Milton McIver – Attorney, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services

  • David Trolio – Director, Cecil County Department of Community Services

  • Russ Hamill – Chief of Police, Laurel Police Department




The second part of the juvenile justice panel series at the 2023 MACo Winter Conference showcased local juvenile offender diversion programs across the counties. While effective centralized services through the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) are necessary, the local programs are an immediate touch point in the community that help divert youth offenders before crimes have escalated or continued. The primary takeaway seemed to be that community based supports are indispensable and an open line of communication with DJS is paramount to achieving successful long-term outcomes.


A teen court program in Caroline, a Fresh START program in the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and the Prince George’s Local Management Board’s Child In Need of Supervision programs are seeing incredible results. But one sentiment was reiterated across the board – the biggest service gaps exist for the most serious youth offenders. While these local programs show better results year over year for the majority of youth in their care, the small amount of the most serious offenders who “flunk out” or are ineligible for their programs are being left behind in droves.


Much of this was attributed to the lack of intensive, integrated, and trauma-informed services that incredibly vulnerable children need. Panelists agreed that, on the brightside, this is a relatively small group of children in the big picture of juvenile crime, but they are the most likely for crimes to continue and escalate and those services are the most expensive to fulfill.


Speakers:

  • Laurie Plutschak – Caroline County, Teen Court Coordinator

  • Stephanie Hinson – Anne Arundel County Police Department

  • Major Sara Schriver – Anne Arundel County Police Department

  • Orethea Y. Mattison – Director, Prince George’s County Local Management Board



HIGHLIGHTS FROM MACo 2023



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