Maryland

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

Why FAMM is Working in Maryland:

In 2016, Maryland became one of the country’s leaders on sentencing reform by passing the Justice Reinvestment Act. The bill repealed most of the state’s mandatory minimum drug sentences. But in 2018, Governor Larry Hogan (R) introduced several sentencing bills that will create new and longer mandatory minimum sentences for some gun and violent crimes. But evidence shows that mandatory minimum sentences do not reduce crime – including gun and violent 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 Bills FAMM Opposes:

The Maryland Legislature meets until April 9, 2018. Below are the bills we’re opposing. Remember: to become law, bills must first be approved by committees, passed by both houses of the legislature, and signed by the governor. Keep checking here for details about the bills and their progress!

HB 100 / SB 199 – 10-year mandatory minimum for a second “crime of violence”

HB 101 / SB 197 – 10-year mandatory minimums for second gun offenses; makes gun possession during a drug crime a “crime of violence”

HB 102 / SB 198 – increased maximum sentence and consecutive sentencing requirement for gang offenses

On January 30th, FAMM submitted written testimony opposing the Governor’s crime bills to the Senate Committee on Judicial Proceedings. The committee heard testimony from a number of local and national groups opposing the Governor’s efforts to introduce new mandatory minimum sentencing. 

On February 6, FAMM again submitted written testimony opposing the Governor’s crime bills, this time to the House Judiciary Committee. The committee did not cast a vote on the package in either the House or Senate committees.

2018 Bills FAMM Supports: 

SB 249/HB 846 Removes the governor from parole decisions in cases involving life sentences. 

In February 2018, FAMM testified before both the Senate Committee on Judicial Proceedings and the House Judiciary Committee in support of SB 249 and HB 846. The bill will need to be approved by the committees, by both chambers of the legislature, and signed by the governor. Keep checking here for details about the bill and its progress. 

Click here to read our remarks to the Senate Committee on Judicial Proceedings.

Click here to read our remarks to the House Judiciary Committee. 

Resources: 

Testimony: Mary Price, General Counsel, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM); Hearing on House Bill 846; House Judiciary Committee (Feb. 15, 2018)

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

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 »


March 6, 2017

Maryland’s Bail System Gets a Major Overhaul

Originally seen in Governing.  Maryland’s highest court adopted a landmark rule Tuesday aimed at ending the practice of holding criminal defendants in jail before trial when they cannot afford bail. The seven-member Court of Appeals unanimously agreed on a compromise that does not abolish money bail, as some advocates have urged, but instructs judges and… Read more »