Monday, February 12, 2018

Maryland's 'tough new approach' to crime is so 1990s

As violence in Baltimore continues at unacceptably high levels, city residents are desperate for solutions, reported the Washington Post. Unfortunately, GOP Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan  has proposed crime bills that sound tough but that won’t actually reduce crime. Stealing a page from the Trump-Sessions playbook, the governor’s plan relies on lengthy mandatory-minimum prison sentences. This approach will waste taxpayer dollars and exacerbate racial disparities in the state’s prisons without making the public safer.
2017 was a record-setting year in Baltimore — and not in a good way. The city’s murder rate reached an all-time high as violent crime in the rest of Maryland and in many other major cities around the country fell. While residents and some crime experts point to the city’s beleaguered and scandal-ridden police department and a lack of job opportunities as possible causes, some officials, including Hogan, say the state simply needs to lock up more people for mandatory prison terms.
Legislation sponsored by the governor would increase the length of mandatory minimum sentences and increase the number of crimes to which they would be applied; decrease access to treatment; and transfer youth to adult court where we know they don’t receive the education, support or services they need to return to society as contributing, responsible, adults. This is certainly one approach to fighting violent crime, but it’s not the right one.
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