In 1996, Maryland's youth population under age 18 was approximately 1,286,200 (Casey Foundation 1998).
Of the State's children, approximately 7 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 17 percent of Maryland's children under age 13 were living in working-poor families or families where at least one parent was working 50 or more hours a week but the family's income was still below the poverty level (Casey Foundation 1998).
Maryland ranked 28th in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was approximately 32 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 29 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998).
Overview of the Juvenile Justice System
In Maryland, Circuit Court judges provide original and exclusive jurisdiction over juvenile court hearings for youth in all subdivisions, except Montgomery County, where juvenile court jurisdiction is assigned to the District Court. In some areas, Juvenile Masters-in-Chancery hear juvenile cases under the supervision of Circuit Court judges (Maryland Governor's Office of Justice Administration 1994, p. 27).
Since 1967, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) has been responsible for the delivery of services for juvenile offenders to the juvenile courts throughout the State. DJS is mandated to provide services statewide for juveniles from status offenders to delinquents who are under the age of 18. To this end, DJS provides a wide array of prevention and intervention programs that are community-based. Further, they administer six juvenile detention centers, five youth centers, one multiservice facility, one training school operated by Youth Services International under a private contract, and 30 private residential facilities for delinquent youth. The State has one facility, housed at the Cheltenham Campus, that has secure care beds available for young women offenders (Maryland Governor's Office of Justice Administration 1994, pp. 25-26).
The State's Formula Grants Program is housed with the Governor's Office of Justice Administration.
Offense Patterns and Processing of Juvenile Female Offenders
The following statistics give an overview of the information available on female offending and processing patterns in Maryland:
Table 11. Maryland Top 10 Female Offenses, 1993Approach to Female Offenders
Before applying for funds under Challenge Activity E, DJS made juvenile female offenders a State priority. In 1992, the State developed a Female Population Task Force designed to focus attention on the needs of young female offenders and to gather statistical data on how young women were processed through Maryland's juvenile justice system.
Initially the task force mission was to establish a profile of this population, identify their specific needs, and design a plan to meet those needs. As part of this effort, the task force published its first annual report in November 1993. The report described the status of the adolescent female offender in Maryland and the services and programs available to her (Maryland Governor's Office of Justice Administration 1994, p. 45). For information on receiving a copy of this report, see Appendix B, Available State Products.
Among other accomplishments, the task force has achieved the following: training on working with pregnant and parenting teens was provided to DJS staff by the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program; a specialized training program entitled Sensitivity to Sex Abuse Survivors was developed and administered to all DJS staff and all institutional staff in the State; and a 10-week parenting skills curriculum for both young men and young women was implemented in all DJS committed facilities (Maryland Governor's Office of Justice Administration 1994, p. 45).
One of the most innovative ways the task force and DJS chose to address the needs of the juvenile female offender population was to create a specialized Female Intervention Team (FIT) probation unit in Baltimore. Begun in 1992, the unit consists of probation officers who have volunteered to work with all female clients and have received specialized training to assist them in their efforts. The FIT unit offers young women offenders unique services built around their developmental and relational needs.
In a related effort, the Female Population Task Force also sanctioned a complete redesign of the Cheltenham Young Women's Facility treatment program. With assistance from CRA, through OJJDP's technical assistance program, a committee created a draft program redesign to implement in the secure care facility. For information on receiving a copy of this program redesign, see Appendix B, Available State Products.
Finally, the Maryland State Advisory Group also requested and received training on gender-specific services and the unique needs of female juvenile offenders through OJJDP's technical assistance program.
Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Data Service. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.
Maryland Governor's Office of Justice Administration. 1994. Maryland's Three Year Comprehensive State Plan for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Poe-Yamagata, E., and J.A. Butts. 1996. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System: Statistics Summary. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.