A controversial bill proposed in Maryland would prevent anyone under the age of 25 from being convicted of felony murder.
Democratic Delegate Charlotte Cruchfield proposed HB 1180, otherwise called the ‘Youth Accountability and Safety Act.’
Proposed legislation in Maryland would prevent anyone under the age of 25 from being charged with felony murder.
Democratic Delegate Charlotte Cruchfield introduced HB 1180 – 'Youth Accountability and Safety Act'
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HB 1180 states:
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FOR the purpose of providing that a person who was under a certain age at the time of the offense may not be found to have committed murder in the first degree under certain provisions of law; and generally relating to felony first–degree murder.
The bill includes a ‘Racial Equity Impact Note’:
This bill prohibits a person from being convicted of murder in the first degree if they are (1) under the age of 25 at the time of the offense and (2) committed the crime in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of an additional crime listed under § 2-201(4)(i)-(xii) of the Criminal Law Article.
Racial Equity Impact Statement
The bill’s provisions prohibiting individuals under the age of 25 from being convicted of first-degree murder in specified circumstances would have a potentially meaningful impact on Black or African American individuals in this age bracket who face arrest for murder, in general, at a disproportionately high rate. The overall equity impacts of the bill, however, cannot be reliably estimated without detailed data on convictions, sentencing, inmates, parole activity, and recidivism rates.
The bill would prohibit an individual under the age of 25 from being convicted of first-degree murder committed in the perpetration of or an attempt to perpetrate various felonies including carjacking, arson, burglary, rape, and various sex offenses. The current penalty for first-degree murder, including felony murder as described in the bill, is imprisonment for life or life without the possibility of parole. A murder that is not in the first degree is considered second degree under statute, and a person who commits a murder in the second degree is also guilty of a felony and subject to imprisonment for a maximum of 40 years. Accordingly, the bill would reduce the overall sentence length for individuals who committed felony murder prior to turning age 25 that would have been otherwise sentenced to life imprisonment under existing law.
In recent weeks, the issue of age has been a hot topic when it comes to justice reform.
Governor Wes Moore’s pick to run the Juvenile Justice Service, Vincent Schiraldi has said no one under the age of 21 should be introduced to the justice system, because the brain is not fully developed.
However, opponents of HB 1180, like Republican Delegate Susan McComas say Democrats are only using mental capacity when it comes to soft on crime policies.
“Proponents of the bill say that the human brain is not fully formed in the frontal lobes until age 25. But yet, we’re doing other things in the general assembly, letting children vote earlier and earlier, letting them get hormone inducing drugs to change their sex,” said McComas.
Delegate McComas believes the bill, if passed, would lead to a spike in crime.
“If this bill passes, you’re going to have kingpins, you’re going to have gangs use juveniles to do their dirty work.,” said McComas.
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