Hogan Prepares to Sign Off on Overhaul of MD Criminal Justice System
May 19, 2016
Maryland officials are about to take steps to reduce the state prison population by more than 1,000 inmates while plowing millions of dollars into crime prevention.
Gov. Larry Hogan plans Thursday to sign the state’s broadest criminal justice legislation in decades — a package that 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.