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.
Improved Crime Fighting Capabilities
The most recent legislative bill focuses on protecting Maryland’s communities from the risks associated with repeat violent criminal offenders by improving the crime fighting capabilities of law enforcement agencies and promoting justice for victims. A $5 million Tyrone Ray Violent Crime Fund will be set up in support of evidence-based investigation of cases in cities where the highest proportion of violent crimes have taken place in the past several years.
Sentencing Enhancements for Violent Criminals
The 2018 bill follows Maryland’s enactment of SB1005, Chapter 515, Justice Reinvestment Act of 2017; the legislation is responsible for the policy framework allowing for provision of targeted drug treatment of nonviolent offenders. The legislation has led to a notable reduction of the state’s prison population through reentry programs. The latest bill would alter this policy, disallowing violent offenders from taking advantage of low-security treatment programs. The legislation will modify existing criminal sentencing rules, making repeat violent offenders ineligible for parole in most cases, forcing them to serve full sentences.
If approved by the state House of Delegates, Bill 122, the Comprehensive Crime Act of 2018 will be the latest bipartisan win for criminal justice legislative reform in Maryland. Despite congressional support for the legislative package, the bill received an “unfavorable” review by the state’s judiciary prior to pass. If involved in a criminal matter in Maryland, contact a licensed attorney for consultation about recent legal changes that may impact your case.
Contact a Criminal Law Attorney
Brassel, Alexander, LLC is a licensed Maryland attorney practice experienced at criminal defense. Contact Brassel Alexander, LLC for legal consultation or representation in a criminal law matter.
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