January 28, 2022

On January 27, 2022, Cara H. Drinan, Catholic Law Professor of Law and Director of Faculty Research, testified before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee regarding two juvenile justice reform Bills.

SB 53, The Juvenile Interrogation Protection Act, would require police to notify parents and/or guardians when a child is being interrogated and to enable legal consultation before interrogation. According to Drinan, this would both protect minors from undue pressure in the interrogation setting and promote public safety by preventing false confessions. SB 165, a Juvenile Court Jurisdiction Bill, would end automatic transfers to adult criminal court and require judicial approval for transfer out of juvenile court into adult court. According to Drinan, for most of the 20th century, transfer from juvenile court to adult court was rare and difficult; it only occurred when a minor’s case was so serious that its possible implications exceeded the punitive limits of juvenile court. SB 165, she testified, would simply require juvenile cases to start in juvenile court. In rare cases where adult adjudication is deemed necessary, it would still be available.

Drinan argued that, in light of United States Supreme Court case law and the science of adolescent brain development, both Bills are commonsense measures that would serve kids and society at large.