With the city reporting more than 300 homicides for the third year in a row, Baltimore’s high violent crime rate is the focus of Maryland Senate Bill 122. Passed by the state Senate in April, the Comprehensive Crime Act of 2018 legislative bill targets recidivists by enhancing sentences for firearm-related, repeat offenses in connection with drug trafficking and other serious crimes. The latest effort by Maryland’s government to strike a balance between public safety and sentencing, the policy initiative will lay the framework for strengthening criminal penalties in cases in which witness intimidation or obstruction of justice is found to be present. The proposed legislation will also support law enforcement capabilities in the investigation of firearm-related criminal cases by expanding those agencies’ authority to wiretap suspects.
System-Wide Reforms, Targeted Programs
If enacted, the 2018 legislation proposes to increase law enforcement agencies’ powers as part of an effort to tackle the systemic causes of crime. The Act includes policy guidelines for multi-year investment in programs to provide law enforcement and community partner agency support in the state over the next four years. Programs to evolve from the proposed legislation of more than $40 million in funding will go to support community safety through police-youth relationship building initiatives, as well as victim relocation and witness protection programs.