Criminal Justice in Maryland: Council Proposes Major Reforms

In December 2015, Maryland’s Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council issued a report to the General Assembly containing recommendations for criminal justice reform.  The proposed changes are designed to protect public safety, provide a more effective, less expensive way to hold offenders accountable, and use state taxpayer dollars more efficiently.

The recommendations, which are projected to avoid $247 million in anticipated corrections costs over the next 10 years, include:

  • Prioritizing prison beds for serious and violent offenders.
  • Providing alternatives to incarceration such as substance abuse and mental health treatment.
  • Strengthening community supervision to improve rehabilitation.
  • Improving reentry and treatment services to reduce recidivism.

State lawmakers established the bipartisan, interbranch council in June 2015 and charged it with developing a statewide framework of sentencing and corrections policies to decrease the state’s incarcerated population, lower corrections spending, and invest in strategies to increase public safety and reduce recidivism. The council received technical assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a public-private partnership of Pew, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and other organizations. 

The Maryland General Assembly is expected to act on the recommendations during the 2016 legislative session, which is scheduled to conclude by April 11, 2016.

Read more about public safety in Maryland.

Spotlight on Mental Health

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