HB 581 — Juvenile Law – Probation - Maryland Catholic Conference

HB 581 — Juvenile Law – Probation

Committee: House Judiciary

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 581. The Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, including the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 581 would set requirements for juvenile probation. The bill would require that a term of probation be consistent with a child’s rehabilitation and treatment needs. It would also set defined maximum terms of probation in juvenile sentencing.

The Conference firmly supports restorative justice practices. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated that “People must be held accountable for their actions but justice and restoration must be the object of punishment which must have a constructive and reformative purpose” (Restorative Justice: Healing and Transformation of Persons, Families and Communities, USCCB, 2015). Additionally, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has further stated that “society must never respond to children who have committed crimes as though they are somehow equal to adults fully formed in conscience and fully aware of their actions” (Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, USCCB, 2000).

This bill provides an alternative sentence and places limitations on that alternative with a view toward “treatment and rehabilitation”. State laws should always provide youthful offenders with such opportunities. It is for this reasons that the Catholic Conference requests your support for House Bill 581.