By Emily Moody
Each year, hundreds of Maryland youths are automatically charged as if they were adults in the criminal justice system. While perhaps intended to promote public safety, research suggests this policy is bad for kids and communities. It needs to be reformed. Prior to the ’80s and ’90s, youths were rarely charged as adults. But starting in 1994, Maryland’s legislature began automatically sending kids to the adult system for a list of new crimes. In 1998, the legislature added a “once an adult, always an adult” provision mandating that youths previously convicted of a felony in the adult system be automatically charged as adults for all future felonies.