ACLU, Allies Supporting Effective, Restorative Solutions for Children in Need of Support
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The following is a statement from Yanet Amanuel, public policy director for the ACLU of Maryland, regarding HB 814/SB 744:
“As drafted, the bill is eerily reminiscent of the kinds of legislation that were influenced by the super predator media propaganda that fed into the notion that Black people, especially Black children, are inherently criminal and deserve harsher punishment. Truly improving public safety must include the safety and well-being of Black and Brown children, who need and deserve comprehensive support during the most challenging periods of their lives. Rather than finding more ways to be more punitive, the legislature should focus on investing in effective violence interruption and community-based diversion programs.”
The fact is that crime rates are at the lowest overall for the last 50 years, no matter the sensationalism we increasingly see from some media. We must learn from past mistakes and say no to policies that exacerbate racial disparities, that ignore evidence-based best practices for improving public safety, and that do not provide policy solutions or services that help children succeed.
Some of the worst provisions in HB 814/SB 744 include expanding the list of charges that a 10 –12 year old can be arrested for, creating a new technical violation of parole, which would severely penalize children for having at least two unexcused absences at a treatment program even though they are often not in control of their own transportation and family situations. And the legislation would create much more serious consequences for a child who is on probation and is alleged to have committed a new offense – even when the alleged offense is only a misdemeanor – which would result in more Black and Brown children being locked up over minor issues and before adjudication. Overall, this legisation does not provide real solutions to the majority of concerns raised during the last year, many of which are already covered under our crimes of violence statute, nor does it increase support and services for children.
Learn more about the ACLU of Maryland’s 2024 General Assembly priorities.