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Blue State Using COVID Relief Funds To Address Skyrocketing Juvenile Crime

Democratic Maryland Gov. Wes Moore will use $5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds toward efforts to reduce crime, with an emphasis on juvenile crime, according to The Washington Post.

The funding will bolster local police departments, promote intelligence sharing among various law enforcement agencies and connect at-risk youth with work opportunities, life coaching and leisure activities, according to the Post. The youth homicide rate for ages 15-19 rose 91% across the U.S. from 2014 to 2021, according to CDC data.

“Improving public safety cannot be a spectator sport,” Moore said. “We can work to remove illegal guns from our streets, but we need your help to help make sure that our kids are doing the right thing. And the only guidelines that our kids should have should not be laws that are passed.”

The funding will support the Safe Summer Initiative, with more resources going towards Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City, which account for 75% of justice-involved youth in the state, according to the Post. It will also support #Thrive25, a program assisting 25 youth who are at high risk of participating in or falling victim to gun violence.

“When people have better access to jobs, education and opportunity, they’re more likely to contribute to our society instead of resorting to crime as a way to survive. We need to make the kind of foundational investments that will break down that pipeline from poverty to prison,” Moore said, according to the Post. “An all-of-the-above approach to improving public safety in Maryland requires preventing crime, holding criminals accountable and addressing the root causes of crime.”

Maryland Senate Republicans expressed disappointment with the measures Thursday, calling them inadequate to address the state’s crime problem.

“Not one initiative announced today will reduce drug trafficking crimes, armed robberies, car-jackings or homicides tonight,” the caucus wrote in a statement. “None will remove repeat, violent offenders from our streets, reduce the number of illegal guns in the hands of criminals, or curtail juvenile crime.”

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