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The Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council Releases Recommendations

Recommendations Projected to Save $247 Million Over Next Decade

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council today announced a set of data-driven recommendations to reform Maryland’s criminal justice system. The recommendations are aimed at safely reducing Maryland’s incarcerated population, controlling corrections spending, and reinvesting in more effective, less expensive strategies to increase public safety and reduce recidivism. The reform package is projected to save $247 million over the next decade by realigning criminal justice spending and holding the criminal justice system accountable for results.

The Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council’s proposed recommendations would:

  • Reserve prison beds for serious and violent offenders;
  • Strengthen probation and parole supervision;
  • Improve and expand re-entry and treatment services;
  • Support local corrections systems; and
  • Ensure oversight and accountability.

Following the charge laid out by Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Speaker Michael E. Busch, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, and Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, the Council engaged in a six-month study of Maryland’s criminal justice system, analyzing state data, evaluating policies and programs used in other states, and reviewing research on what works to reduce recidivism.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that every Maryland tax dollar spent on our criminal justice system delivers the highest return on our investment in public safety,” said Governor Hogan. “Throughout its work, the Council focused on how to treat offenders suffering from substance abuse or mental health problems, and explored reentry programs that could help them become contributing members of their communities once they return home. I want to thank the Council for its hard work on this significant report.”

Key findings from the Commission include:

  • 58 percent of admissions are for nonviolent crimes;
  • Almost 60 percent of prison admissions are failures of probation or post-release supervision;
  • 43 percent of probation revocations and over 70 percent of parole and mandatory supervision returns are for technical violations; 
  • Offenders sentenced under the guidelines are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration than they were a decade ago;
  • Time served has gone up 23 percent in the last decade, driven in part by a 25 percent increase in average sentence length; 
  • Only 37 percent of offenders are paroled, and those who are paroled serve an average of nine months past their parole eligibility date; and 
  • Probationers revoked for a technical violation serve an average of 31 months in prison.

“Maryland has done a good job reducing crime and incarceration over the last decade and now we are in a unique position to double down on those wins,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. “We charged the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council with this important work last session, and they have succeeded. The Council’s recommendations are a roadmap to make our streets safer and save millions of taxpayer dollars.”

“The Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council’s recommendations provide a unique opportunity in Maryland to get better, fairer results from our criminal justice system,” said House Speaker Michael E. Busch. “This cross-section of experts has outlined strategies for smart sentencing that will better focus our resources on serious offenders to keep communities across Maryland safe.”

“Our goal is to end the revolving door of inmates cycling in and out of prison,” said Christopher B. Shank, the Council’s chair, and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention. “I look forward to continuing this important work in the coming months, as the Hogan administration and the General Assembly consider legislation that would put these long-needed reforms into place.”

The Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council consists of representatives from state executive, legislative, and judicial branches; local government; and a wide array of criminal justice stakeholders. In addition to the Council’s meetings, it held four public roundtable forums in communities throughout the state and two victim/survivor discussions. The Maryland Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council was established by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Hogan.

Members of the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council include:

Christopher B. Shank, Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, Chairman
Senator Bobby Zirkin
Senator Michael Hough
Senator Nathaniel McFadden
Senator Douglas Peters
Delegate Kathleen Dumais
Delegate Erek Barron
Delegate Michael Malone
Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Stephen T. Moyer, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Sam J. Abed, Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services
David Eppler, Attorney General’s Office
Paul DeWolfe, Office of the Public Defender
Judge Diane O. Leasure, Howard County Circuit Court (Ret.)
Robert L. Green, Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation
Sheriff Doug Mullendore, Washington County
Scott Shellenberger, State’s Attorney, Baltimore County
Judge Joseph Murphy, Maryland Court of Appeals (Ret.)
Caryn Aslan, Job Opportunities Task Force
Tim Maloney, Attorney
LaMonte E. Cooke, Queen Anne’s County Detention Center

Maryland received technical assistance from the Pew Charitable Trusts and its partner, the Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice. This assistance was provided as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a public-private partnership between Pew and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.


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