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.
David Bird (D), incumbent, 36, of 3402 Laurel Ave., Cheverly, was elected to the House in 1978; he serves on Constitutional and Administrative Law and County Affairs committees. He has been a practicing attorney in Prince George's County, a high school teacher and a research specialist at the Library of Congress and for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sentences: Minimum mandatory sentences should be imposed in cases of those who are offenders of serious crimes (rape, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and the like) and those who commit crimes using a handgun. A maximum security facility for juvenile offenders is not an appropriate use of the Juvenile Services budget. Rather, funds in that department should be increased and devoted to programs that guide juveniles away from a criminal career. Under existing law serious juvenile offenders can be tried as adults and placed in the regular criminal justice system.
Spending: Increased state spending should be addressed in terms of reordering priorities rather than raising additional revenue through new taxes.Our state budget has grown faster than the rate of inflation for at least the last 12 years. More general revenues must be returned to local subdivisions for relief of the local property tax burden. In particular, we must still address the question of equal spending for public education regardless of the wealth of the local jurisdictions. Increased spending is needed for services to the mentally and physically handicapped. Increased capital investment must be devoted to government buildings and facilities for improved energy efficiency.
Legislation: 1) The public is demanding tighter controls on handguns. I will introduce legislation to mandate universal handgun registration. Such a law will help keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, will aid police in solving crime and will respect legitimate handgun ownership by responsible individuals. 2) I will continue to press for increased capital expenditure for energy efficiency in public schools and other government buildings. Too much of our education dollar is going out the window. 3) I will continue to press for higher standards for teacher certification at the state level.
Richard A. Palumbo (D), incumbent, 44, of 3419 Stanford St., Hyattsville, an attorney, was elected to the House in 1978 and serves on the Ways and Means Committee. He was assistant state's attorney in Prince George's County from 1969 to 1974 and has served on the Tax Assessment Appeal Board and the Democratic State Central Committee.
Sentences Repeat violent criminals should receive mandatory sentences and I support legislation directing judges to impose them. It is sad but true that many juveniles commit violent crimes, often drug-related. A total package to deal with this problem must include education and rehabilitation programs as well as a special facility. The facility, and indeed all correctional facilities in light of the recent county jail revelations, just be designed and managed to prevent inhumane conditions.
Spending: The current state budget is basically sound in terms of setting spending priorities. However, some areas need additional attention. Our roads and bridges need extensive renovation. In light of the recession and severe unemployment, we need to expand job training programs both within the school system and for displaced workers. The criminal justice system, from the police officer to the courts and prisons, will require additional funding to combat the crime problem.
Legislation: 1) Stronger drunk driving laws. During last year's session, the legislature made progress in this area, but more must be done. I will support legislation to bring our laws into line with the tougher nationwide average. 2) Municipal home rule. I will sponsor legislation to provide local cities and towns with the authority needed to enact and enforce "quality of life" laws. 3) Increase Prince George's County's share of state funds. I will propose legislation to change the state formula for distributing funds for education, highway renovation, police aid, etc.
Frank B. Pesci Sr. (D), incumbent, 53, of 8311 Fremont Place, New Carrollton, has been a member of the House since 1971. He has chaired subcommittees on health, education, government operations and the environment. A professor and higher education consultant, he is chairman of the legislative advisory council of the Southern Regional Education Board.
Sentences: I would support legislation requiring judges to impose mandatory sentences for any crime committed with a handgun. I do not believe Maryland should build a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders at this time.
Spending: The state should spend more money on programs for the mentally ill and mentally retarded. The state should also spend more money on higher education so that large tuition increases can be avoided.
Legislation: 1) Create an executive office which would be responsible for planning for the deinstitutionalization of mentally ill and mentally retarded persons, and be responsible for building a consolidated budget to accomplish this planning effort. 2) I have pre-filed a bond bill which would support the restoration of the Calvert mansion in Riverdale. 3) Introduce legislation which would call for the county's Office of Law to take over the legal needs of the Board of Education and Prince George's Community College.