'I Want These Children Prosecuted': Baltimore Residents Fed Up With Juvenile Crime

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The Baltimore residents who showed up for a public safety forum hosted by officials in Baltimore City and Baltimore County on Tuesday night, they didn’t pepper Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley or Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough with questions about the recent court decision declaring the state’s Handgun Qualification License unconstitutional or demand more gun control laws. While lawmakers in Annapolis have been busy cracking down on legal gun owners and their right to both keep and carry a firearm for self-defense, their constituents (at least those in attendance on Tuesday night) seem much more interested in making sure that criminals are facing consequences for their actions; especially the rising number of juvenile offenders committing violent crimes.


Donna Tallent, 72, addressed the panel, explaining she was carjacked last week after living in her neighborhood just over the city-county line for 43 years.

“I want these children prosecuted. I want something to happen. I don’t want them to get slapped on the wrist and sent home to mommy and daddy, who are not going to take care of it,” she said.

Tallent said she was unloading her car when two people approached her.

“I saw a pistol in his hand and he said, ‘Give me your keys, give me your keys,’ and the next thing I know, he hit me in the head and I went down,” she said

Tallent spent a day in the hospital with a concussion. Her black eye is still noticeable.

Police eventually found Tallent’s car after it had been crashed by the teen carjacker. Authorities arrested a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old in connection with the crime, and the 16-year-old has been charged as an adult in the case, but the odds are that even in adult court the teen will be offered a plea deal that amounts to a slap on the wrist.

The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services admitted earlier this year that there’s been an increase in juvenile crime over the last two years, but contends “complaints are still below pre-pandemic levels and down sharply–by over 50 percent–over the past decade.” DJS also maintains the “proportion of juvenile complaints that are for crimes of violence has not changed significantly over the past decade,” but acknowledged that juvenile arrests for murder and attempted murder in the city of Baltimore “have consistently increased over the past five years.”


If the overall reports of juvenile crime haven’t dramatically increased across the state, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case in Baltimore; at least not when we’re talking about the most serious offenses of all. No gun control law is going to stop juvenile crime either, given that we’re talking about kids who aren’t old enough to legally purchase or possess a gun in the first place. Maryland already has a “safe” storage law on the books, and it was expanded earlier this year to mandate that gun owners “may not store or leave a loaded firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor has access to the firearm.”

While Maryland lawmakers have been busy passing all kinds of new restrictions on lawful gun owners over the past few years, they’ve also been overhauling the juvenile justice system in an attempt to keep troubled kids away from the juvenile justice system. As the Baltimore Banner detailed a few months ago:

Maryland has been gradually reshaping its juvenile justice system, as an increasing body of evidence has revealed young people’s brains are still developing, and they should not be treated the same as adults. The state has moved away from pure punishment and is moving more toward supervising them outside detention centers, while understanding why young people commit violent acts and working to treat and support them.

I understand that the primary role of the juvenile justice system is aimed at rehabilitation, not incarceration, but some juvenile offenders do need to be detained and kept away from the general public while rehabilitative efforts take place. Cutting them loose with an ankle monitor and telling them to check in with their probation officer or counselor isn’t going to suffice when we’re talking about teens who are repeatedly being arrested for escalating crimes of violence, but that seems to be the strategy that the state’s Democratic majority has taken… and a growing number of Baltimore residents are fed up with the results.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member