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Maryland Governor Signs Bill to Overhaul State's Criminal Justice System

May 19, 2016  | 

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed legislation Thursday aimed at reducing the state prison population by more than 1,000 inmates while plowing millions of dollars into crime prevention, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The state's broadest criminal justice legislation in decades will reduce sentencing guidelines for drug dealers, thieves, and other offenders, while increasing the number of crimes that can be wiped from an offender's record fivefold.

Users of illegal drugs will be steered toward treatment, not incarceration. And new rules will help the state go after criminal gangs.

The Justice Reinvestment Act, a document of more than 100 pages, is a seismic shift from policies adopted during the late-20th century war on drugs, which critics say led to governments wasting money on incarceration that did little to increase public safety.

By reducing the Maryland prison population by about 1,100 people over the next 10 years, officials expect to save an estimated $80 million that can be redirected toward programs intended to prevent crime.

But some say doing away with mandatory minimum sentences was a mistake, as was reducing sentences for some drug offenses. Others bemoan the increased penalty for second-degree murder, and say not enough other penalties have been reduced.

Most of the bill's provisions go into effect in October 2017. Some will become law this October.

Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Sheriffs Explorer Sgt. @ 5/19/2016 4:09 PM

This new bill will drive the prison population down but, it'll make the crime rate skyrocket. Fortunately I do not live in Maryland.

kevcopAz @ 5/19/2016 6:06 PM

Sure the population in DOC will fall NOW, but they will be back Im sure. The 80 Million savings wont be a drop in the bucket when you consider the cost to deal with the crimes that these criminals will most certainly do once out of DOC as well as the "rehab"costs will be more then that IF they are serious about decent programs for these drug users. Further the citizens will take the loss in property, pain and suffering from the new crimes that these same offenders will commit. This his political nonsense and with the "wiping out" the records of these folks it will keep employers from knowing they are hiring a criminal, keep courts from using these prior convictions to enhance punishment for future crimes (which WILL be committed)that these folks commit. I didn't see what party this Governor is from but I suspect he has a "D" after his name or at the least is supported by the "Ds" since they are even pushing for felons to vote and even wipe out all criminal records to be "fair". Lunacy

Tom Ret @ 5/19/2016 7:06 PM

It doesn't take a genius to see why criminals are less and less concerned about consequences for crime. If they do go to jail they won't be there long. Gov hopes to rehabilitate those to be released but many don't want to be rehabilitated and choose to live a criminal life which they will go back to within
a short time after being released.

vtxmaster @ 5/20/2016 1:44 PM

This is actually good legislation that not only reduces the prison population but also provides a way to keep them out. It attempts to reduce recidivism by keeping parolees from returning to jail for technical violations of parole. Eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes, Attempts to reduce jail for non-violent drug offenses. Its a good first step in the state to address the over-incarceration problem in the US caused by the failed drug war.

bo2234 @ 5/20/2016 2:34 PM

Actually kevcopAz, he has an "R" after his name. Unfortunately, due to gerrymandering galore in the Peoples' Republic of MD, were are still run primarily by democrats that run the house and senate where their numbers outweigh the R's. It was kind of force fed to him with a few good points, mostly bad, and a veto-proof majority.

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