Thursday, August 31, 2017

Maryland governor calls for truth-in-sentencing legislation in response to crime ravaged Baltimore

After a closed-door meeting about “out of control” violent crime in Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday he plans to propose a major crime package during next year’s General Assembly session that includes truth-in-sentencing legislation, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Republican governor met for about an hour in Baltimore with elected state and local officials, all of them Democrats, as well as Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and acting U.S. Attorney for Maryland Stephen Schenning. Afterward, Hogan said he was frustrated that violent repeat offenders are not receiving long prison sentences. “We keep putting the same exact violent people on the streets,” Hogan said.
In other states, truth-in-sentencing legislation has often meant eliminating parole and good-time credits that reduce sentences. Hogan did not provide details about the bill he will propose. Attendees at the meeting included Mayor Catherine Pugh, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. Hogan invited Baltimore judges to attend the meeting, but they declined, saying it would be inappropriate.
Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, a Democrat running for governor, was among those who gathered outside the meeting. He called for it to be opened up to the public.
“The timing of the meeting reeks of politics,” he said. “Whenever you see a leader close a meeting that’s normally open, you have to ask, ‘Are they trying to hide something?’ You have to ask, ‘What are they afraid of?’ ”
Maryland law requires public bodies to allow people to observe their discussions when a quorum is discussing the public’s business. But, according to the Maryland attorney general’s office, the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council does not fall under the definition of a public body.
However, a memorandum of understanding that created the council says its meetings “shall be open to the public.”
Hogan said he wanted to avoid a “media circus,” and described the conversation as sometimes getting heated.
“The beauty of a having a closed-door session like that is we could be very frank and open and say exactly what we felt,” he said. “This wasn’t for political purposes.”
Frosh said he would have “preferred this be an open meeting.”
“I don’t think there was anything said up there that hasn’t been said somewhere else,” he said. “The main message was we all need to work together.”
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