Washington County Public Safety Officials Highlight Two Legislative Priorities for 2024

Enhanced protections for local judges and pre-release program eligibility for incarcerated individuals are priorities for public safety officials in Washington County for the coming legislative session. 

According to a Herald-Mail article, the Washington County delegation held their annual meeting with county leaders to discuss legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session. Officials from all local agencies had a chance to highlight initiatives that are of interest. A number of topics were discussed including two public safety measures.

During the meeting at Hagerstown Community College, Sheriff Brian Albert discussed the importance of pre-release programs in the local detention centers. These programs gradually allow offenders to re-enter society ahead of their official release date and have a direct correlation to long-term success rates for returning citizens. A barrier to participation in this program is a conviction of a crime of violence at any time in an incarcerated individuals history. For instance, if an offender was found guilty as a young adult of a violent crime and already served that sentence, but thirty years later is serving a short-term sentence for something else, unrelated to a violent crime, they would not be eligible for the program.

Sheriff Albert’s suggestion to the group from the article:

Albert is seeking legislation to allow the sheriff’s office to consider participants if those crimes were committed outside a certain time period — perhaps five to 10 years before applying for the program, and not counting any time spent incarcerated.

Another priority discussed, is consistent with an issue covered previously on the Conduit Street blog. The recent murder of a Washington County Judge has lawmakers looking into additional safety measures to prevent another similar tragedy from happening. This is already a known priority of Montgomery County Senator, and current Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, William Smith. At the delegation meeting, Washington County public safety officials and local government leaders also requested similar actions be taken.