Justice Reinvestment Act Voted Out of House

Maryland’s Justice Reinvestment Act (HB 1312) passed out of the House on Monday 105-31. The bill is intended to transform Maryland’s criminal justice system and reinvest savings into programs to reduce recidivism.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

Considered one of the most consequential bills of the 2016 General Assembly session, the measure is the product of almost a year of study and debate by a high-level commission and legislative committees. The effort has the backing of top legislative leaders and Gov. Larry Hogan, who appointed a high-level aide to chair the commission that made recommendations to the legislature.

Among other things, the bill cuts maximum sentences for low-level drug dealers while adopting a state version of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to aggressively go after higher-level drug traffickers in gangs.

The House held robust public workgroup meetings on the bill before it made its way to the House floor. The workgroup, which consisted of delegates from the Judiciary and Health and Government Operations Committees, held numerous meetings and allowed all interested stakeholders to provide input on the bill.

MACo testified in support with amendments to the bill and participated in the workgroup meetings. We were pleased to see a number of the MACo amendments adopted into the bill the House passed.

The Senate passed its version of the Act (SB 1005) 46-0 on March 24. MACo also testified in support with amendments on the Senate bill. Unfortunately the amendments MACo sought did not make it into the Senate bill.

With notable differences between the bills passed by the two chambers, the possibility of the bills going to conference committee is inevitable. There is one week left in session for the differences to be worked out.

For more information read:

Maryland House Approves Criminal Justice Overhaul Bill (The Baltimore Sun)

Justice Reinvestment Ball in House Court (Conduit Street)

Why “Justice Reinvestment” Might be the Biggest Issue of the Session (Conduit Street)