Chief Judge Issues COVID-19 Related Order to Protect Juvenile Defendants

jail cellA judicial order issued by Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Ellen Barbera set new, more stringent standards for judges to follow before detaining juvenile defendants amid the coronavirus crisis.  

In an effort to limit youth detention and to protect those youth already in juvenile detention facilities, Chief Judge Barbera has issued an order that sets factors judges should take into consideration before detaining a juvenile defendant including whether they have shown symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, requires judges to document their reason for detaining a juvenile defendant, expedites hearings, and encourages judges to help identify youth that can be released.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

“Judges responsible for handling juvenile matters are encouraged … to limit detention or commitment, unless necessary to protect the safety of that juvenile respondent or the safety of others, in or to Maryland juvenile detention and treatment facilities,” Barbera said.

Barbera urged judges to consider whether the “Department of Juvenile Services has notified the court of a viable alternative plan for detention or commitment … and whether the juvenile has family or a placement resource available to meet basic food, housing, and health needs.”

As previously shared on Conduit Street advocates have been urging for officials throughout the criminal justice system to take action to release certain individuals and provide more protection for those behind bars. The Office of the Public Defender petitioned the Maryland Court of Appeals urging release and improvements of conditions for juvenile inmates. State correctional officials argued the request was too broad and that expediting emergency procedures should sufficient.

For more information:

Maryland’s highest court issues sweeping order to help prevent spread of coronavirus in juvenile detention centers (The Baltimore Sun)

Previously reported on Conduit Street:

ACLU, Public Defender Petition Court of Appeals to Direct State to Reduce Inmates During Coronavirus Crisis