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FAMM submits written testimony for Maryland Senate hearing on separate bills addressing sentencing and prison reform
ANNAPOLIS – FAMM Deputy Director of State Policy Celeste Trusty offered support for several bills being considered during the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings hearing today in the form of separate written testimony for Senate Bill 128, Senate Bill 134, and Senate Bill 36.
“Maryland scored a meager 16% in FAMM compassionate release report card, which is why we back the reforms Senate Bill 128 would bring to the system,” said Trusty. “The bill would establish broader criteria of who would be eligible for this type of relief. It also has the added benefit of helping reduce the prison population by giving people who are no longer a threat to public safety another avenue to return home and become productive members of our communities. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to report favorably on this bill so this critical reform can move forward.”
Among other provisions, Senate Bill 128 would allow people who are at least age 60 and have served 15 years or more of incarceration; or who suffer from chronic, terminal physical or mental health conditions to seek relief through parole.
“Maryland’s state prison system lacks transparency and accountability, which created a dysfunctional and more dangerous environment for those who are incarcerated and the staff that works inside the facilities,” said Trusty. “Senate Bill 134 and Senate Bill 36 address those shortcomings by creating independent prison oversight bodies. FAMM calls on the Senate Judiciary Committee to report favorably on these bills, and move these important efforts forward.”
Senate Bill 134 would establish an Office of the Correctional Ombudsman to provide independent oversight of prisons in the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). Senate Bill 36 would create a Deaths in Custody Oversight Board with the mandate to investigate and report on each death of an incarcerated person in Maryland. A poll commissioned by FAMM found that 82% of the public supports independent prison oversight, which is reflected in the fact that Maryland is joining various states and the federal level in considering this type of reform.
For more than three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM has led the fight to reform extreme mandatory sentencing laws and to promote rehabilitation and dignity for all people in prison, 94 percent of whom will return to our neighborhoods one day.
FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safely reduce incarceration, save taxpayer dollars, and keep families together. Founded in 1991, FAMM has secured bold sentencing and prison reform across the country while elevating the voices of directly impacted individuals and families.