Anetrice House, Incorporated

Lost girls: Young women face harsher punishment in Maryland’s juvenile justice system

"With Government Services are dwindling, unimaginable unemployment rates and prices constantly going up. What are single mothers supposed to do?"

he Baltimore teen and her mother had been fighting for months. Sometimes the arguments got physical, and one night when the high school freshman came home late from prom dress shopping, she said she decided to shove back. Her mother called the police.

In a matter of minutes, the 14-year-old went from teenager to juvenile delinquent, charged with second-degree assault. Now, the same things she’d done before — not coming home on time, leaving the house without permission — were offenses that landed her back in maximum-security lockup nearly a dozen times over the next two years.

“I’m not a criminal — I just have family problems,” said the girl, who is not being identified because juvenile criminal records are private, and The Baltimore Sun generally does not name young offenders.

If she had been a boy, statistics show, it probably would have been ...........