MACo Supports “Message Bill” on Local Jail Sentencing

MACo Associate Director Les Knapp joined two local wardens, George Hardinger from Carroll County and Art Wallenstein from Montgomery County, to support SB 118 before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Wednesday. SB 118 would require state-sentenced inmates with terms over 12 months be sent to state correctional facilities. Under current law, inmates with sentences up to 18 months may be sent to serve their time in local correctional facilities. (Read the bill’s Fiscal and Policy Note here for more background on these issues)

MACo’s testimony on SB 118 discusses the recent budget-balancing actions affecting county governments, and local jails in particular. From that testimony, MACo draws the link between the fiscal cutbacks and the policy change effected by SB 118:

For the next several fiscal years, local jails will be housing State inmates between 12 and 18 months for free. If the State is not able to pay for their inmates incarcerated longer than 12 months, then local jails should not be forced to accept State inmates for longer than 12 months. SB 118 would help rectify the situation.

Committee discussion on the bill acknowledged the fiscal impacts on the state rendering its passage very unlikely, but the bill hearing promoted dialogue on the fiscal effects on budget cuts being continued into the FY 2012 budget and beyond.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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