An overview of MACo’s advocacy on public safety and corrections legislation in the 2019 General Assembly.
Counties are the primary provider of public safety services in the state. Each county is required to have an elected sheriff and some also have a county police force. Additionally, each county operates a local jail which holds inmates awaiting trial and those sentenced to 18 months or less.
Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.
MACo supported legislation to help local animal control agencies hold owners convicted of animal cruelty responsible. Animals seized due to owner cruelty are often held in local shelters throughout the prosecution process. This process may take months or years. The shelter, as a result, incurs numerous costs as the animals are often in need of special care. This legislation provides a mechanism for impounding agencies to recover their costs from owners convicted of animal cruelty. The bill passed both chambers and will proceed to the Governor for his signature.
Warrant Intercept Program
MACo supported the extension of the Warrant Intercept Program, a helpful tool for counties seeking to address outstanding arrest warrants. This program provides a safe and controlled process for individuals to be notified about their outstanding warrants. Tax returns are withheld in certain circumstances until they turn themselves into law enforcement. Unfortunately, this legislation did not move out of committee following its hearing.
Youth Crime Prevention
MACo supported legislation to improve public safety and prevent youth crime. This legislation would establish a Youth Crime Prevention and Diversion Parole Fund for law enforcement agencies administering youth diversion and engagement programs. The legislation passed both chambers and is proceeding to the Governor for his signature.
Correctional Facilities and Services
MACo opposed legislation that would have required counties to reimburse costs of pretrial conditions imposed upon certain defendants by the courts. Special conditions might include enforcement of a curfew or alcohol restrictions or periodic reporting requirements. Providing pretrial services like these are voluntary, and only about half of the counties in Maryland currently offer them. This legislation’s cost requirement might have discouraged counties from offering pretrial services. This legislation did not move out of committee following its hearing.
MACo supported legislation to create a statewide system of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders throughout local jails. In addition to bringing uniformity to the administration of this treatment, this legislation commits the State to fund screenings, evaluations, and treatments for inmates in county facilities. This legislation passed both chambers and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
MACo supported legislation that would have ensured inmates with serious mental illnesses receive treatment in appropriate State facilities instead of being held in county jails. County jails are not equipped to properly provide treatment services for individuals who are a danger to themselves yet are unwilling to volunteer for treatment. Unfortutnealy, although this legislation passed the Maryland Senate, it did not advance in the House.
MACo also supported legislation that would have established procedures to ensure individuals released from State correctional facilities are returned home upon release. This common-sense process might have helped individuals re-enter their former communities and re-connect with their family networks. Unfortunately, this legislation did not move out of committee following its hearing.
For more information on public safety and corrections legislation tracked by MACo during the 2019 legislative session, click here.