Last week, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that, if fully implemented, will begin to bring an end to years of mass incarceration in Maryland by prioritizing drug treatment over prison, improving parole practices to better support release and reintegration, and doing away with racially unjust mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
The Justice Reinvestment Act, which represents what the Baltimore Sun called “an unusual display of bi-partisan cooperation,” puts Maryland on trend with states across the nation that are turning away from long, overly-punitive sentences–which are cost-ineffective and do not lead to lasting public safety–in favor of treatment and other restorative approaches that often cost less than incarceration and produce better public safety outcomes.
The bill is not perfect, but many key pieces of the bill speak directly to OSI’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice program, which seeks to reduce the use of incarceration and its social and economic costs without compromising public safety, and promote justice systems that are fair, are used as a last resort, and offer second chances. OSI-Baltimore applauds its grantees and other advocates who informed passage of the bill, and looks forward to working with key stakeholders to ensure the bill’s implementation and help Maryland take even bigger steps to achieve equitable and lasting community safety.
Photo courtesy Patrick Semansky / Associated Press