Pubdate: Mon, 11 Apr 2016
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Post Company
Author: Kathleen M. Dumais


The inaccuracies and misinformation in the April 6 editorial 
"Striking the right balance on judicial reform," which discussed 
criminal-justice reform bills in the Maryland legislature, are inexcusable.

The editorial should have mentioned the data, report or discussions 
of the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council, which served as the 
basis of the legislation. The House bill, as amended, would save 
about $100million over the next 10 years, not the $247 million the 
editorial cited, because it strikes the right balance between 
criminal-justice reform and public safety. And the House took the 
time to reach consensus on the bill in an open, collaborative and 
transparent process.

Over the past several weeks, Health and Government Operations 
Committee Chairman Peter A. Hammen (D-Baltimore) and I chaired a 
12-member bipartisan work group on the bill, and we heard from many 
stakeholders. We painstakingly reviewed the 84-page bill and crafted 
comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation.

The coordinating council's final report and the House bill document 
how the proposed administrative release of nonviolent and drug 
offenders will use evidence-based programs and a validated risk and 
needs assessment. The bill repeals harsh mandatory minimums for some 
drug crimes while maintaining them for the traffickers and kingpins.

The Senate's bill, in contrast, does not repeal mandatory minimums, 
which have a disproportionate racial impact: In fiscal 2013 and 2014, 
81 percent of the offenders sentenced to mandatory minimums for drug 
crimes were black.

It is unfortunate that the editorial did not reflect the facts in 
comparing the House and Senate bills. Instead, it just regurgitated 
the perspective of a few.

Kathleen M. Dumais, Annapolis The writer, a Democrat, represents 
Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates and is vice 
chair of the Judiciary Committee.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom