A proposed Democrat bill in Maryland is seeking prevent those under the age of 25 from being charged with felony first-degree murder in certain circumstances.
House Bill 1180, or the Youth Accountability and Safety Act, was introduced to the House of Delegates in February by Democratic Delegate Charlotte Cruchfield, and is currently being considered by the chamber, according to Fox Baltimore.
The bill states that those under the age of 25 at the time of the offense "may not be found to have committed murder in the first degree" under section 4A of the bill, which relates to first-degree murders committed in the perpetration of or an attempt to perpetrate actions like arson in the first degree, burglary, carjacking, rape, and sexual offense.
"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," a Racial Equity Impact Note analysis of the bill states.
Noting that the current sentencing for first-degree murder, including felony murder, is life in prison, the bill analysis states that "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."
"The bill’s provisions prohibiting individuals under the age of 25 from being convicted of first-degree murder in specified circumstances would allow these individuals to be released from incarceration after serving no more than 40 years in prison," the analysis concludes. "This could allow an individual who may have committed a murder while committing another crime as a juvenile or young adult to have an opportunity to be released at a more mature age and possibly rehabilitate."
Opponents of the bill say that if it passes, it could lead to a spike in Crime as well as gangs using these young adults to do their work.
"It would be absolutely outrageous and result in more crime," Maury Richards, law enforcement expert and former Chief of Police in Martinsburg, West Virginia, told Fox Baltimore.
"Last year, with Senator Carter's Juvenile Justice Reform Act, it really opened the floodgates. There is a crime wave of violence going on right now, but instead of the legislator debating to rescind that, we're hung up on whether 25-year-olds should be charged with murder," Richards added.
"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 Republican Delegate Susan McComas.
"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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