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.
Stephen N. Abrams (R), 39, of 2290 Dunster La., Rockville, is staff attorney for a U.S. House Public Works and Transportation subcommittee. He is a member of the Rockville City Council, transportation committees of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the National League of Cities and the county Republican Central Committee.
Sentences: I support mandatory sentences for repeat drunk driving offenders.I will propose the creation of limited incarceration facilities where persons convicted of drunk driving would be required to spend nonworking hours during the course of their sentences. I will also propose designation of judges to specialize in drunk driving cass to promote uniform treatment of offenders. I also support mandatory sentences for offenses committed with handguns. I support increasing our capacity to house criminals, including new separate maximum security facilities for both adult and juvenile offenders, but I would also encourage a look at separate first-offender facilities and new kinds and uses of limited incarceration structures.
Spending: Maryland should increase spending on the administration of our criminal justice system by adding to the number of judges to handle our increased case load and establishing specialty courts to handle white-collar crime and drunk driving cases. Maryland should also assume the role, in conjuction with local government, to become a "public venture capital provider" as a stimulus for private investment for new job-producing plant development. More funds should be made available to ensure the availability of adequate public facilities. Maryland should be able to increase our "bang for the buck" by modernizing our institutional relationships as a way of reducing the costs associated with the process of government. I intend to focus on process reform to eliminate bureaucratic duplication by using cooperatively the resources available at all levels of government and moderning agency practices.
Legislation: 1) I will propose the creation of limited incarceration facilities where persons convicted of drunk driving would be required to spend nonworking hours during the course of their sentences. This concept of limited freedom, which could be located in surplus state and county facilities, would allow persons convicted to have the ability to make some financial restitution to both the victim and the state while still retaining the punitive value of imprisonment. 2) I will propose legislation to strengthen handgun laws in Maryland, including sharing regulatory authority with local governments. 3) I will propose legislation to allow state pension funds to be invested in long-term fixed-rate instruments which could be used to provide mortgage money at reasonable rates for qualified first-home buyers in Maryland. I would envision the program as being broad enough to also encourage private investment.
Mary H. Boergers (D), incumbent, 36, of 4417 Puller Dr., Kensington, was appointed to a vacancy in the House in July 1981; she serves on the Ways and Means Committee and subcommittees on income tax and enterprise zones. She has been a fundraising consultant for Rep. Michael Barnes' campaign, legislative coordinator for NOW and a high school teacher in Rockville.
Sentences: Generally, I oppose mandatory sentencing because I believe a fundamental basis of our justice system is that judges and juries determine the penalty based on the circumstances of the individual case. I would, however, support legislation which establishes sentencing guidelines and require a written explanation if a lesser sentence is imposed. I also support mandatory sentencing for those who use firearms while committing a felony or have three felony convictions. The best method of getting dangerous criminals off the street is through stiffer sentences and a restructuring of our parole system to make sure criminals are not released only to commit additional crimes. I believe there is a problem today with some dangerous juveniles who cannot be helped in juvenile rehabilitative facilities and programs. In fact, their inclusion reduces the effectiveness of these programs. Some juvenile offenders should be placed in a secure facility, but it is inappropriate to imprison them with adults.
Spending: The reality of today's economy is that it is unlikely that state government will have money to spend on new or expanded programs. We may, however, be able to shift priorities and increase spending in certain areas. Priorities include: job training and business development programs; prison expansion; highway maintenance and mass transportation; improved health care for the poor and elderly; development of affordable housing; and increased day care facilities. State government expenditures can be lessened by reducing excessive layers of bureaucracy and by eliminating fragmented and overlapping programs. We can close underutilized facilities such as Henryton (an institution for the retarded) and replace them with higher quality, less expensive community-based programs. We must continue health care cost containment programs to limit Medicaid expenditures and institute improved record keeping in order to eliminate fraud and abuse. State expenditures on equipment such as computers must be carefully monitored to make sure we are purchasing the most cost-effective equipment.
Legislation: 1) I plan to introduce legislation to reestablish home rule rights for municipalities in order to effectively protect their right to self-government and to establish a tax system that protects municipal residents from unfair double taxation. 2) A second piece of legislation would establish residence districts for members of the Montgomery County Board of Education. Only one member could live in each of the five districts but would be elected by all the voters in the county. Two at-large seats would also be established. The purpose of this legislation is to assure geographical balance on the board in light of our growing up-county population. 3) Another example is comprehensive job development legislation which would include training programs, job placement services, child care and tax incentives to those who hire the hard-core unemployed.
Stanley H. Eckles (R), 53, of 5201 White Flint Dr., Kensington, a property manager, is a vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. He served on the Republican Central Committee for 12 years, including two terms as chairman. He also is a member of the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and the county's Agricultural Advisory Committee.
Sentences: Mandatory sentences should be required as punishment for any crime committed with use of a deadly weapon (gun and others). Also for any repeat sentence. A maximum security facilty for juvenile offenders is a low priority. It is more important to build regular prisons to relieve overcrowding.
Spending: I would have to have more information to give a specific answer to this question; however, spending in all areas will have to be examined in light of the introduction of the New Federalism so that all necessary services are sufficiently funded and others are cut when possible.
Legislation: 1) Legislation to aid the state in converting to the New Federalism. 2) Aid to the victims of crime. 3) Elimination of unnecessary state programs.
Jennie M. Forehand (D), incumbent, 46, of 712 Smallwood Rd., Rockville, a delegate since 1978, is on Appropriations, Deinstitutionalization and Special Projects committees. A former teacher, juvenile probation counselor and small-business owner, she is active in issues related to health, senior citizens and the environment.
Sentences: Raising minimum sentences is preferable, but I would support mandatory sentences for drunk drivers and for crimes involving the use of guns, if there were options for alternative community service. Juvenile offenders should be kept separate from adult prisoners, but a place is needed where these juveniles can be treated as adults if juvenile rehabilitation programs are not successful. An existing facility can have a section set aside for this purpose; I see no need for a separate facility.
Spending: Increased spending in one program usually means a reduction in another. As a member of the Apropriations Committee, I have tried to fund preventive programs -- hoping to reduce funds elsewhere -- such as preventive health programs, which in the long term reduce the cost of sick care. I would rather allocate funds to provide jobs, recreation and education to potential offenders and spend less on jails and rehabilitation programs. We must continue to reduce the state bureaucracy and administrative costs to allow more funds for direct services. More funds are needed for housing and day programs to deinstitutionalize patients who no longer need care in institutions.
Legislation: 1) For municipalities: home rule and elimination of double taxation. 2) Legislation to assist victims and witnesses of crimes. 3) Legislation to strongly discourage hate/violence communications. 4) As a result of federal changes, review Maryland legislation regarding environmental issues, especially the Chesapeake Bay to protect our most valuable economic and natural resource. 5) Continue to monitor state departments and regulations to be sure that they (a) serve the public, (b) are written in "plain language", and (c) cut red tape. Am working to get Motor Vehicles Administration open an extra Saturday per month. 6) Continue year-round constituent services.
Richard E. Frederick (R), 46, of 1802 Yale Place, Rockville, is an attorney in private practice. A former deputy attorney for Montgomery County, he also was a lawyer while serving in the U.S. Air Force. He is active in the local Chamber of Commerce, bar associations and church groups and is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Ready Reserve.
Sentences: I favor mandatory sentencing for violent crimes and for crimes such as selling drugs and paraphernalia to juveniles. If favor a separate maximum security facility for juvenile offenders in order to isolate then from the general prison population. I also favor service-related programs and training for incarcerated juveniles.
Spending: The state should spend more money to improve transportation. This includes matching funds for Metro, commuter rail subsidies and road improvements such as the I-270 interchanges at Quince Orchard and Shady Grove roads, Rte. 28 and Falls Road, along with the Rockville circumferential road and the I-370 access to the Shady Grove Metro station. The state should combat crime by providing money for more police protection and crime prevention programs; for more judges and modernized court systems; and to expand and modernize the prison system. The state should vigorously promote economic development through increased funding of the Industrial and Commercial Redevelopment Loan program, through incentives to labor and industry to develop training programs and through the creation of enterprise zones. The state should continue to develop higher education programs and leave primary education to local government.
Legislation: 1) Change the criminal defense insanity plea to provide first for a finding of "guilty" or "not guilty" with a determinant sentence and then considering the defendant's mental condition in determining whether psychiatric treatment should be provided while the sentence is served. 2) Change the educational funding formula to provide for a minimum reasonable base for each county in the state, with local option to supplement the funding where desired to prevent the undermining of Montgomery County's educational system by the state. 3) Change state law to strengthen home rule powers for municipalities such as Gaithersburg, Rockville and Garrett Park.
Michael R. Gardon (D), 35, of 206 Upton St., Rockville, an attorney and lifelong resident of Montgomery County, has been a legislative aide in the state Senate and a special assistant to former Secretary of State Blair Lee III. A former Army Reserve officer, he has held office in many legal, civic and Democratic party groups.
Sentences: I support mandatory sentences for crimes involving the use of guns and for drug distributors who have prior convictions. I feel mandatory sentencing should be used on a trial basis and that the legislation should include "sunset" provisions. Otherwise, I feel that mandatory sentences on the whole are not justified, as they prevent any flexibility in the sentencing procedure in cases where mitigating factors should be taken into consideration. I believe the prison system should provide secure placement of juvenile offenders who should not be in the normal juvenile program and also should not be mixed with the adult population.
Spending: I believe the state, if it has the resources in light of the Reagan cutbacks, should spend more money in promoting job retraining programs with the cooperation of the private business sector. Other spending priorities would be to increase our prison capacity, improve our road system and develop programs to meet the special needs of senior citizens. Another of my top priorities is to develop a home mortgage program to provide reasonably priced mortgage money to middle-income families. I would propose reductions in the state bureaucracy, especially at the level of deputies and assistant agency heads. Some state agencies are overstaffed at the administrative level, which creates a top-heavy and cumbersome personel structure.
Legislation: 1) I intend to propose legislation which would create a state mortgage fund to provide funds for middle-income families to purchase homes. Because of the high interest rates, families in Montgomery County with family incomes of $30,000-$40,000 cannot qualify for mortgages. This program would help alleviate the growing problem of housing affordability in the county. 2) I also would propose a system of income tax dependency deductions, similar to the deductions families get for their children, for persons who support elderly members of their families. This program would also extend to medical costs of caring for these elderly citizens. 3) I also intend to propose legislation which will insure municipal autonomy and permanently remove double taxation which citizens in our cities now face.