When 15-year-old Farron Tates was convicted of selling drugs after his fifth arrest in January, he was released into the care of his mother – who herself had been convicted three months earlier of buying crack cocaine. Six weeks later, Tates was arrested and charged as an adult with murder.
Until the murder, the teen’s story was typical of those juveniles returned by Baltimore’s juvenile justice system to questionable guardians about whom little is known. The courts don’t have the resources to do their independent investigations, forcing judges to rely on Department of Juvenile Services reports that are often faulty or incomplete. Department officials say they’re doing all they can, considering that they’re supervising 2,000 juveniles at any given time, and that there’s no formal criminal background, parole or probation check required for the adults to whom youth are released. March 13, http://www.baltimoresun.com.