FORT MEADE, Md. — A 12-year-old who was found with a gun at his middle school will not face any criminal charges, due to a recent Maryland law change.
Officers with the Anne Arundel County Police Department said on Thursday that a School Resource Officer (SRO) at MacArthur Middle School, at Fort Meade Army Base, was notified of a student who had a handgun on campus. The SRO also found a loaded magazine and loose ammunition in the student's bag.
Police said under Maryland's new Juvenile Justice Reform, House Bill 459 voted into law; there are no applicable charges in the incident.
Under the law, passed in June 2022, a 12-year-old can no longer be charged with certain crimes, including bringing a handgun and ammunition to school.
In a release, county police said since the law took effect on June 1, 2022, they have had dozens of cases where juvenile suspects were located, identified, and unable to be charged.
According to police, those cases include assaults, weapons violations, intimidation, harassment, drug charges, theft, burglary, sex offenses, threats, motor vehicle thefts, animal abuse, arson, and indecent exposures.
Maryland State Senator Jill Carter (D, Baltimore), an architect of the juvenile justice reform bill, pushed back on the police announcement.
“Often we were not only treating children as adults, but we were not providing them the services that they needed," Carter said. "We were giving them the taint of criminality, and that wasn't being successful because we had a high recidivism rate.”
Carter said the law provides law enforcement agencies new tools to handle juveniles.
"They can, at any time in any one of these instances, file a 'Child in Need of Supervision' petition with Department of Juvenile Services and that child will be evaluated, and whatever those needs are, they will be met," Carter said.
Police and political leaders in Prince George’s County have also been harshly critical of the juvenile justice system.
The judge overseeing juvenile court in the county was reassigned shortly after the county announced a curfew Labor Day weekend in the midst of a juvenile carjacking epidemic. That curfew remains in effect and is due to be reevaluated this month.
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