Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes called yesterday for enactment of several crime-prevention measures, and added some fresh proposals -- including a 17 percent pay raise for state troopers and mandatory prison terms for certain drug dealers -- to ones he has advocated before.
The usually low-key governor enthusiastically pictured his anticrime program as "one of the most comprehensive criminal justice packages in the nation," and said it includes "new and innovative steps in the field of crime prevention."
The new proposals include bills to allow prosecutors to try third-time juvenile offenders as adults; create a citizen's advisory board on sex offenses to assist rape victims; hire 192 new prison guards, counselors, probation officers and medical personnel, and create a new governor's commission on crime prevention to coordinate citizen involvement.
Hughes also repeated his support for a new state prison at Hagerstown and for a mandatory one-year prison term for possessing an unregistered handgun.
He said the anticrime package was drafted in close consultation with the leadership of the state House and Senate and the chairmen of the two key committees that review the crime bills.
With the new anticrime package, disclosed at his regular statehouse press conference, Hughes moved a step into political territory claimed by the man considered his most likely 1982 election challenger, Anne Arundel County Executive Robert A. Pascal.
Pascal, a two-term Republican executive with a law-and-order reputation, has not officially announced he will run for governor. But he has been building bridges to influential Democrats whose support is crucial for any Republican in a state with a 3-to-1 Democratic voter registration edge.
Hughes' anticrime proposals apparently triggered the first dispute of the 1982 campaign, prompting Pascal to declare yesterday that the governor is "a Johnny-come-lately . . . We've been advocating these things for years. The governor has spun 180 degrees on this issue."
Pascal said he had previously proposed a pay increase for state troopers who in recent years have made moves to join two separate unions because of dissatisfaction with low pay. Pascal also said he has long advocated stricter rules for trying young persons in juvenile courts, where penalties are lighter than in adult courts.
"I welcome Hughes' belated support," Pascal said.
Hughes said at his press conference that "it would be too cynical" to call his anticrime measures politically motivated. "I really haven't heard any of Mr. Pascal's speeches."
Concern over crime, perceived as an important issue with voters, has produced an outpouring of tough anticrime bills in the General Assembly, which convenes next month, including measures to stiffen penalties, aid crime victims, crack down on bail-jumpers and sweep drunken drivers off Maryland highways.
"There's a lot of frustration on the part of many citizens," said Del. Joseph Owens (D-Montgomery), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "Politicians are going to try to allay those fears, so I guess you could say it's because of the election year."