House Bill 409 is a narrowly crafted bill aimed at juveniles, convicted of serious crimes in adult court, who have served 20 years or more in prison and have shown significant maturation and capacity to change in ways that make them no longer a danger to the public, may have their sentence reconsidered by the court. This bill will allow a court to take a new look at an old sentence in light of what we know today about past events, as well as the subsequent actions of the juvenile offender.
A few key points: No one will be released from prison solely because of this bill; Victims are guaranteed a voice in proceedings. There must be demonstrated growth and change on the part of the juvenile offender sufficient to convince the court that the person is not a danger to the community and that reconsideration is in the interests of justice; Even if the court determines a change is warranted, the court does not have to release the juvenile offender. It can impose whatever new sentence it deems appropriate.
This bill reflects our growing understanding of juvenile brain development and the sad reality that the norms of behavior, judgment, and impulse control we would like to see in our youth are often late in developing. As a result, far too many of our young people get involved in criminal activity, sometimes with deadly and serious consequences.
This legislation will fund the Emerging Adult Youth Program in Prince George’s County. This program is focused on individuals aged 18-26 years old who are currently incarcerated. Working with the Key Ever Forward organization this program establishes key re-entry programs for our young adults to include counseling, job training, and work programs. The program begins while the young adult is incarcerated and continues through probation in order to reduce recidivism and promote successful re-entry into the community. This program currently costs about $10,000 per person.
House Bill 187 will require all police departments to deploy body-worn cameras by January 1, 2025. Body-worn cameras will increase transparency and accountability between law enforcement and the citizens that they are sworn to protect. Body cameras will lead to a faster resolution of citizen complaints, serve as a training tool, and help restore confidence in our police departments. State Attorney’s offices will need resources to successfully utilize and store the demonstrative evidence. This increase footage will require a massive increase in storage fees. State’s Attorney Offices will require resources to store footage needed for trial.
The State’s Attorney’s Office has also proposed a process for the identification, review, and production of relevant information contained in Internal Affairs records maintained by the Department’s IA Division. The general proposal provides a transparent and fair process in which the State’s Attorney’s Office and the County Attorney’s Office ensure that relevant and material information is turned over to defense counsel while ensuring the integrity of personnel files.
House Bill 277 is designed to protect our most vulnerable victims, our children. Too often our children are the victims of repeated child abuse, and although these children are often given a medical diagnosis of torture, each individual episode of abuse does not create life-threatening injuries or loss or impairment of an organ, and therefore the perpetrator cannot be charged with the aggravated felony of First Degree Child Abuse. This bill states that anyone who commits three or more acts of child abuse may be charged with First Degree Child Abuse as a continuing course of abuse.
This legislation will close the loophole for the manufacturing and use of Ghost Guns in violent crimes in Maryland. This legislation is aimed to make clear that ghost guns should be considered firearms for the purposes of the public safety article and for the purposes of the use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
This legislation mirrors pending federal legislation and will ensure that victims of non-consensual pornography have civil remedies for platforms that do not properly vet out videos for publication. It aims to put an end to the publishing of child pornography as well as videos of sexual assault or posted for the purposes of embarrassing another party.
After tireless efforts, hard work and dedication, three priority bills backed by the Office of the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County became law in in May 2020 and went into effect on October 1 2020. These laws strengthen Maryland’s hate crime statute, make strangulation a first degree felony and require more appropriate training for special police officers in Maryland. These laws provide important prosecutorial tools and public policy designed to make our community safer.
Senate Bill 606/House Bill 917 strengthens Maryland’s hate crime statute, clarifying that hate does not have to be the sole motivation for a hate crime. This legislation was a major focus for the Office of the State’s Attorney as a result of State vs. Sean Urbanski. In this case, Urbanski, a White former University of Maryland student, was found guilty of the first degree murder of an African American Bowie State University senior. 2nd Lieutenant Richard Collins, III, just days before graduation. Originally, Urbanski’s charges included a hate crime, which would have added up to an additional 20 years to his sentence. However, during the trial, the judge dismissed the hate crime charge on the basis that hate was not the sole motivation for the murder, even though there was significant evidence of racism prior to the crime.
Senate Bill 212/House Bill 233 changed strangulation from a second degree assault, carrying up to a $2500 fine to a first degree felony assault and up to a $5,000 fine.
House Bill 1111 increases the amount of training hours, including de-escalation techniques, for special police officers in Maryland.