Drug offenders allowed to seek reduced sentences in Maryland


Maryland’s mandatory minimum sentences for repeat drug offenders were lifted earlier this month, allowing those currently incarcerated for such crimes the opportunity to seek a reduction in their sentencing.

Maryland’s Justice Reinvestment Act, which was approved last year by the state General Assembly and subsequently signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan, has garnered bipartisan support and has been led by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

Before the enactment of the Justice Reinvestment Act this month, repeat offenders for drug crimes in Maryland were subject to mandatory minimum sentences that carried no chance for parole. Second-time offenders were given 10-year sentences, third-time offenders 25 years, and fourth-time offenders 40 years.

Under the new provisions set forward by the act, the minimum sentences for drug crimes have been repealed and those already serving sentences can petition for a reduction of their sentences.

The Maryland Office of the Public Defender is preparing to provide representation and reentry services to more than 500 prisoners who will be eligible for shorter sentences under the new legislation.

Maryland’s enactment of the Justice Reinvestment Act reflects a national trend of reformation concerning the punitive approach to combating the addiction epidemic in the country.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in the past five years, nearly one-third of the states have amended their legal penalties for drug crimes.

Prisoners who hope to have their sentences reconsidered will have to… (continue reading)