Fact Check: A Survey of Available Data on Juvenile Crime in Baltimore City

June 2018 / Abell Reports / Criminal Justice and Addiction
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New study finds overall juvenile arrests are down, but juvenile arrests for violence are up. The outcomes for youth are largely driven by judges.

In response to public perception that juvenile violence is on the rise in Baltimore, Sheryl Goldstein and Katherine McMullen from the Abell Foundation collected and analyzed available data on juvenile crime, arrests, and outcomes in Baltimore City. The inquiry focused on whether juvenile violent crime was, in fact, increasing. It also sought to clarify what happens to young people charged with committing violent acts.

In “Fact Check: A Survey of Available Data on Juvenile Crime in Baltimore City,” the Foundation presents data that shows:

  • Overall juvenile arrests are down significantly, while juvenile arrests for violent crime are up.
  • Even with the increase in juvenile arrests for violent crime, only a small number of youth are charged as adults for crimes of violence.
  • Most cases involving youth charged as adults are transferred back to juvenile court for disposition. The percentage of juvenile cases charged in adult court that resulted in transfers back to the juvenile court has increased—from 19 percent in 2013 to 67 percent in 2017.
  • While most youth who are charged as adults are detained pretrial for four months or more, only a small percentage of them (less than a quarter) serve additional jail time or out-of-home confinement after their cases are resolved in either adult or juvenile court.
  • Case outcomes for youth charged with violent crimes appear to be driven by a small number of individual judges in a process that is not very transparent.
  • There is a dearth of publicly available data related to juvenile violence/violent crime.

The report concludes that a more sophisticated and data-driven understanding of systemic challenges is needed both to protect public safety and improve outcomes for youth. The report recommends that public agencies involved with youth charged with violent crimes work more collaboratively and transparently.