January 18, 2017


Decline in 12-month reconvictions and readjudications sharpest drop in recent years; female reconviction rates nearly 11 percent below males

BALTIMORE – Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Sam Abed announced today that overall juvenile recidivism rates decreased by 4.1 percent in Fiscal Year 2015 with female recidivism rates 10.7 percent lower than males. Fiscal Year 2015 is the most recent year for which there is data on 12-month reconvictions and readjudications. Consistent with national standards, the department measures recidivism by reviewing the number of youth released from the department’s committed treatment facilities who are readjudicated in juvenile court or reconvicted in adult court within 12 months of their release.

The overall 12-month rate of recidivism of 16.7 percent in 2015 marks a sharp decline from 2014’s rate of 20.8 percent [1]. Fiscal Year 2015’s rate is a 6.3 percent drop since Fiscal Year 2010. For females, the rate of recidivism has been dramatically reduced to 7.7 percent in Fiscal Year 2015, 10.7 percent lower than boys [2]. The recidivism figures were recently presented in the department’s Fiscal Year 2016 Data Resource Guide, an annual compilation of data and information pertaining to youth who come into contact with and are served by the Department of Juvenile Services.

The significant decline in juvenile recidivism means that more youth involved in the juvenile justice system are making better choices in the community to avoid further involvement with law enforcement and the legal system and, thus, improving public safety in Maryland’s communities. This notable improvement in recidivism rates reflect the strategic collaboration between all of the organizations involved in the juvenile justice system in Maryland including the Department of Juvenile Services, law enforcement, the courts, schools, service providers, and other executive agencies like the Department of Human Resources and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The department credits some of the reduction to the department’s system-wide reforms such as the creation of the Accountability and Incentive Management Initiative (AIM) implemented in July 2016, a Re-Entry Strategic Plan implemented in January 2016, the prioritization of committed placement for youth who pose a public safety risk, increased emphasis on family engagement, and robust and integrated trauma informed care and behavioral health supports for youth in the department’s care. These reforms have also contributed to the decline in female recidivism in addition to the department’s emphasis on gender-responsive care and supervision, which recognizes the unique treatment needs among girls.

Secretary Abed released the following statement:

“Reducing recidivism is one of the primary goals for any juvenile justice agency,” Abed said. “Doing so requires stakeholders at every decision point to work together effectively by providing the support, treatment, and resources a youth needs to make better choices in their lives. Since I began my tenure six years ago, we have worked tirelessly to build partnerships, implement effective strategies, and support youth and their families - which have made these results possible. I am incredibly grateful for our partners in law enforcement, schools, the courts, medical professionals, and the dedicated staff of the Department of Juvenile Services who work hard every day to serve and support youth in our care.”

The significant decrease in juvenile recidivism rates should be viewed additionally in the context of the substantial decrease in the number of youth committed to the department’s care and placed in out-of-home facilities, which is the deepest end of the juvenile justice system. Beginning ten years ago in FY 2007 when 1018 youth were committed to the department’s care, the overall average daily committed population has decreased 43.6 percent to 574 youth in Fiscal Year 2016 [3]. In just the past two years, the overall average daily population of committed youth has declined 36 percent (898 in Fiscal Year 2014 to 574 in Fiscal Year 2016). During the same time period, the average daily committed population of girls dropped 35 percent (143 in Fiscal Year 2014 to 93 in Fiscal Year 2016).

Safely reducing the number of youth committed to out-of-home placements was a priority for Secretary Abed and the result of a strategic effort by the department. In 2014, Secretary Abed asked the Annie E. Casey Foundation to study the various ways that youth who have some contact with the juvenile justice system ultimately end up being committed by the courts and placed in out-of-home programs. In January 2015, the Casey Foundation published “Doors to DJS Commitment: What Drives Juvenile Confinement in Maryland?” Based on the findings of that report, the department developed the AIM Initiative, whichcreated a system of graduated responses, sanctions, and incentives to encourage youth being supervised by the department in the community to comply with the terms of their respective court orders. Along with diverting low-risk youth at intake and prioritizing out-of-home placement for youth who are risks to public safety, the AIM Initiative was a contributor to the decline in youth committed to out-of-home programs due to its focus on addressing typical adolescent behaviors in the community, rather than through the courts.

Abed continued, “To reduce juvenile recidivism, each point in our system where we have contact with youth must be working properly. Ultimately, we want to serve and support the youth in our care so that they make better decisions and avoid further involvement with the legal system. The 12-month juvenile recidivism rates for Fiscal Year 2016 are very encouraging but there is still work to be done. The department remains committed as always to serve and support youth in our care and, in turn, help make Maryland’s communities safer for everyone.”


[1] Committed population decline 2016 (PDF)

[2] Female recidivism decline 2016 (PDF)

[3] Committed youth population decline 2016 (PDF)​​​