Candidates for the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Sentences: In what cases, if any, would you support legislation requiring judges to impose mandatory sentences? Do you feel Maryland should build a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders? Please explain.
Spending: In which areas of government should the state spend more money or less? Please be specific.
Legislation: Give three examples of legislation you intend to propose.
Thomas Patrick O'Reily (D), incumbent, 43, of 7107 Lois La., Lanham, a lawyer, has been a member of the state Senate since 1974. He is active in community groups. His legislative interests have included tax relief, criminal justice, alcohol-related driving offenses and elimination of double taxation of municipalities.
Sentences: (a) Traditionally, the legislature has believed that the courts are the best judge in administering a just and proper sentence, and that its own responsibility is to impose a maximum sentence level. The idea of mandatory sentencing is an unusual approach to the handling of convicted criminals. Over the years, this approach has not been well accepted by the legislature. The rising crime rate, however, has caused many members of the Maryland state legislature to reconsider this position. In the upcoming legislative session, I intend to press for mandatory sentencing of those individuals convicted of aggravated rape and alcohol-related driving offenses. (b) I oppose a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders. I believe that dangerous juvenile delinquents should be judicially dealt with as adults and incarcerated with them. Investing our scarce prison dollars in such a project would be wasteful.
Spending: One of the wisest investment we can make in the next few years is to channel funds into projects that will serve to create more jobs. The staggering unemployment figures translate not only into heartaches for those families affected, but also into the deteriorating health, and in some cases the death, of Marylanders whose incomes have been reduced below the poverty level. Unquestionably, an expanded work force is dependent upon the creation of incentives for businesses to expand their operations and open up new opportunities for our unemployed work force. A second area that needs investment, notwithstanding the tight fiscal restraints, is prisons. We must focus on the repeat offender of serious crimes against people and recognize that there are many individuals who will never be rehabilitated and must be permanently removed from society. To implement this philosophy, we must provide the facilities to house these prisoners.
Legislation: While there are numerous bills I intend to sponsor over the next few years, there is one bill of particular importance to the community. That bill requires any person who drives on the streets of Maryland to carry minimum liability insurance, a requirement that will impact most heavily on our citizens from Prince George's County. Presently, Maryland only requires Maryland registered vehicles to carry this coverage. As a result, our neighboring jurisdiction, the District of Columbia, which does not have such a requirement within its own confines, issues thousands of uninsured motorists license plates enabling them to drive anywhere in the United States. Not surprisingly, financially irresponsible motorists traveling into Maryland and causing severe personal injuries simply ignore lawsuits that arise. The bill I will introduce would require all motorists traveling in Maryland to carry liability insurance.