Speakers Highlight the Importance of the Child Interrogation Protection Act, Amid Apparent Increasing Non-Compliance by Police
This October, young leaders and advocates are coming together to launch Youth Justice Action Month, a time to redouble our commitment to securing safe communities that our children can thrive in. We must continue to work for the rights of Maryland’s children, protect the reforms we’ve already won like the Child Interrogation Protection Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, and pursue more effective, data-driven solutions that make all of us safer.
The Child Interrogation Protection Act (CIPA) is about protecting the basic due process rights of children, particularly Black and Brown children who are disproportionately stopped, searched, arrested, and interrogated by police every day in Maryland. Just like all adults, children already had the right to a lawyer before CIPA passed. What is new is that before CIPA went into effect in 2023, children in Maryland were questioned without an attorney present and without an understanding of their rights. CIPA simply requires an attorney be consulted when a child is first interrogated by police and requires that the child’s parents or guardians be notified when the child is taken into custody. The law has an exception in place for emergency situations, as long as officers’ questions focus on the safety concern and aren’t designed to get children to incriminate themselves without access to a lawyer.
That kind of coercive interrogation is just one of the practices that led to Maryland being named one of the worst violators of children’s legal rights by Human Rights for Kids in 2020. In response to findings by a multi-year, bipartisan group of stakeholders, the Maryland General Assembly passed a series of reforms meant to decrease the criminalization of children with non-violent offenses and prevent them from being drawn deeper into the juvenile justice system. These reforms, known as the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, have been vastly successful in the months since they’ve gone into effect: Complaints against children are still below pre-pandemic levels and down sharply – by over 50 percent -- over the past decade.
Sadly, children are still much more likely to be the victims of crime than they are to be the perpetrators of it. According to 2021 data from the Maryland State Police, 92.6 percent of homicide arrests and 92.9 percent of all arrests in Maryland are of adults, while 7.4 percent of homicide arrests and 7.1 percent of overall arrests are of children. Exposure to violence can lead children to make dangerous choices. The most effective system is one designed to treat and rehabilitate the most vulnerable children who may have committed violent crimes. We cannot keep children safe by pushing policies that criminalize them and threaten their right to counsel.
WHAT: Press conference to launch National Youth Justice Action month and highlight the importance of the Child Interrogation Protection Act of 2022 (CIPA).
WHO: Speakers include bill sponsor Delegate Sandy Bartlett; young leaders with the No Boundaries Youth Organizers; Henry Parker with the Baltimore Algebra Project; Rev. Brian Murray with Bridge Maryland; leaders with Maryland Youth Justice Coalition; Jenny Egan, public defender for children with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender; Dayvon Love, public policy director for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle; and Yanet Amanuel, public policy director for the ACLU of Maryland.
WHEN: 6 p.m. on Monday, October 2, 2023.
WHERE: No Boundaries Coalition, 1505 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217