Businesses in Baltimore County, Maryland, have begun calling on local officials to increase penalties for juvenile crime as reports of young criminals have started to rise in the area, Fox45 News reported.
Many businesses reported that although they experienced more foot traffic in 2023, they also witnessed an increase in the number of youths who attempted to steal from their stores, according to Fox45. Businesses blamed Baltimore’s lenient policy on juvenile crime, which they claim has exacerbated the crime in the area. (RELATED: As Juvenile Crime Skyrockets To Record Levels, States Seek To Crack Down)
“They [juveniles] cannot be arrested,” Nancy Hafford, the executive director for the Townsend Chamber of Commerce, told Fox45. “The worst consequence that can happen to them is you can call their parents.”
Thank you to @MayorBMScott and the CHM neighborhood for hosting us yesterday for a community walk. Great time speaking with residents and discussing solutions to public safety and other city services. #CommunityPolicing #publicsafety #mybmore pic.twitter.com/6npZpYb7bY
— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) October 5, 2023
Maryland passed a bill in 2022 reforming juvenile criminal law and limiting what offenses an offender under the age of 18 would receive punishment for, a summary of the bill detailed. The bill prohibits children under the age of 13 from being charged with a crime unless they committed a “violent act” and limits the extent of punishment that juveniles can receive for everything except crimes like homicide and manslaughter.
Juvenile offense complaints have increased 74.1% since 2021 in Maryland, but the most recent data shows that juvenile arrests decreased by 63.3% between 2013 and 2020, a document from the Maryland government showed. The majority of complaints against juveniles in 2023 were for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses, and the number of non-violent juvenile offenses has increased 70.5% since fiscal year 2022.
The Baltimore police department, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Baltimore mayor’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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