Public Safety in Maryland

This page was updated on May 19, 2016 to reflect new laws passed in Maryland.

In May 2016, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law a comprehensive package of criminal justice reforms that will enhance public safety, restructure sentences for low-level property and drug offenders, and provide effective sanctions and incentives for offenders on probation and parole to remain crime- and drug-free.  The Justice Reinvestment Act is projected to reduce Maryland’s prison population by nearly 1,200 inmates over the next 10 years, freeing up $80.5 million for investment in programs to reduce recidivism rates, treat substance abuse, and enhance community supervision practices.

The law is based on policy recommendations from the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council, which engaged in a comprehensive study of Maryland’s sentencing and corrections systems. With technical assistance from Pew, the council analyzed data, evaluated policies and programs in Maryland and other states, and reviewed research on reducing recidivism. In December the council issued a report with its findings and a wide-ranging set of policy recommendations that formed the basis of the Justice Reinvestment Act.

The council found that over the past decade, Maryland achieved large declines in both its violent and property crime rates along with modest reductions in the state prison population. However, the state still incarcerated more than 20,000 offenders in 2014, costing taxpayers $1.4 billion. Meanwhile, critical recidivism reduction investments such as specialty courts, drug treatment, and re-entry programs were underfunded. With corrections spending rising, policymakers sought a better public safety return for taxpayers.