Maryland

Watch: Maryland Senator Michael Hough (R) and Delegate Erek Barron (D) explain why they support drug sentencing reform: 

Why FAMM Worked in Maryland:

In 2016, Maryland became one of the country’s leaders on sentencing reform by passing the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA). The JRA repealed most of the state’s mandatory minimum drug sentences. But in 2018, Governor Larry Hogan (R) and numerous other lawmakers introduced several sentencing bills that, if passed, would create new and longer mandatory minimum sentences for some gun, violent, and drug crimes. FAMM opposed these bills because longer and mandatory minimum sentences are not proven to reduce crime. Instead, mandatory minimums produce unjust results and racial disparities, and they waste taxpayer money on locking some people up for too long. Instead of spending money on longer sentences and more prisons, Maryland should focus on crime-fighting solutions that work, like smarter policing, improving police-community relations, and investing in victim services and crime prevention. 

2018 Session Wrap-up: Maryland’s legislative session ended at midnight on Monday, April 9, 2018. The General Assembly will not begin its next session until January 2019. Here’s what happened to the bills we were following in 2018:

2018 Crime bills: Thanks to calls and emails from FAMM members to lawmakers opposing mandatory minimums, the most counterproductive sentencing bill, SB 122, fell apart in the last few days of session. But lawmakers took some of the mandatory minimums out of SB 122 and passed them in two other bills, SB 101 and SB 1137. These two bills were voted on in a messy and hurried process in the final hours of session. Lawmakers also passed new gun possession mandatory minimums in HB 1029 and created new mandatory minimums for use of gun bump stocks in HB 888. Governor Hogan signed HB 1029, SB 101, and SB 1137 into law on April 24th. We expect Governor Hogan to sign HB 888 into law in either April or May. Below are the new mandatory minimum sentences created by the legislature in 2018:

  • A new 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence with no parole for people who commit a second “crime of violence” (SB 101)
  • New 5-year mandatory minimum prison sentences with no parole for offenses involving 5 grams of pure fentanyl or fentanyl analogues; 28 grams of a mixture containing any detectable amount of fentanyl or fentanyl analogues; 28 grams of a mixture containing any detectable amount of heroin; or 448 grams of a mixture containing any detectable amount of methamphetamine (SB 1137)
  • New 1-, 3-, and 5-year mandatory minimum prison sentences with no parole for people who carry loaded handguns on their person or in their cars and have previously been convicted of a gun offense (HB 1029)
  • New consecutive, 5-year mandatory minimum prison sentence with no parole for use of a bump stock in a felony or crime of violence (HB 888).

2018 parole reform bill: FAMM was also disappointed that SB 249 and HB 846 did not pass during the 2018 legislative session. These bills, if passed, would have removed the Maryland governor from the process of approving parole for people serving life sentences. Maryland is one of only a couple of states that requires the governor to approve these parole requests. We believe parole should be handled by the parole board in a streamlined fashion and free from gubernatorial politics.

 

FAMM testimony on 2018 Maryland bills:

Gun, violent, and fentanyl crimes: SB 122Read FAMM’s testimony against SB 122 

Gun crime, violent crimes, and gang crimes: HB 100, HB 101, HB 102/SB 197SB 198SB 199 – Read FAMM’s testimony opposing these bills in the Senate and in the House

Gun possession: HB 1029 – Read FAMM’s testimony and letter opposing this bill

Parole reform bill: SB 249/HB 846 Read FAMM’s testimony supporting the bill in the Senate and in the House  

Resources: 

Factsheet: Why the Governor’s Crime Bills are a Costly Mistake for Maryland

Op-ed: Maryland bills move state backwards on crime (James Forman, Jr., Baltimore Sun, 4/4/18)

Op-ed: Governor’s Crime Plan Sends Maryland Back to the ’80s (Baltimore Sun, 12/31/17)

History of Sentencing Reforms in Maryland:

2016: On May 19, 2016, Governor Hogan (R) signed the Justice Reinvestment Act, a bill FAMM and its members supported throughout 2016. The law went into effect on October 1, 2017. The bill had tremendous support from both Democrats and Republicans and was championed by State Senator Michael Hough, who in 2015 helped the Maryland legislature pass the broadest safety valve exception to mandatory minimums in the country. That safety valve allowed judges to depart from a mandatory minimum in any drug case in which the court thought the minimum was not needed to protect public safety or would result in a substantial injustice to the defendant. The Justice Reinvestment Act goes even further: it eliminates Maryland’s crack and powder cocaine disparity and eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders. Learn more about what the Justice Reinvestment Act did by clicking here.

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:



January 30, 2018

FAMM, Advocates, and Lawmakers Oppose New Crime Bills at Maryland State Capitol

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202-822-6700 FAMM, Advocates, and Lawmakers Oppose New Crime Bills at Maryland State Capitol Today at 11:30 a.m. at the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis, Maryland, FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) and a dozen other criminal justice reform, civil rights, and law enforcement groups gathered at a press conference to oppose Governor… Read more »


July 25, 2017

FAMM Testimony Urges Baltimore to Remove Mandatory Minimum Sentence from Handgun Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 25, 2017 Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 FAMM Testimony Urges Baltimore to Remove Mandatory Minimum Sentence from Handgun Bill   WASHINGTON – FAMM President Kevin Ring submitted testimony today to the Baltimore City Council Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee in which he expressed opposition to the proposed one-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for illegal… Read more »


July 25, 2017

Joint Statement: Baltimore City Council Should Reject Mandatory Minimum Sentence

  Joint Statement: Baltimore City Council Should Reject Mandatory Minimum Sentence WASHINGTON – Today, the following criminal justice and civil rights organizations issued this joint statement in response to Baltimore City’s proposed handgun safety law, which will be debated before the City Council on Tuesday, July 25, and contains a mandatory minimum sentence of one… Read more »