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.
William C. Bevan (D), 55, of 10750 Guilford Rd., Jessup, is a real estate agent and a retired junior high school principal with 25 years of service in the Prince George's County school system. He is president of the Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital Foundation and is active in youth programs and local civic and political organizations.
Sentences: I would support legislation requiring mandatory sentences for rape, for crimes committed with a handgun and for those convicted of being a drug dealer or pusher. I believe the whole area of the juvenile justice system needs a major overhaul. A comprehensive evaluation of the present system should be done. It could very well be a recommendation of this study that a maximum security be built. I do not favor housing juveniles with hardened adult criminals.
Spending: The state will need to evaluate the federal programs that have been cut. Proven programs such as CETA and Head Start will need to be funded. In addition, the state needs to develop programs for retraining the unemployed in certain industries, such as steel and automobile manufacturing. The state also needs to increase the use of retirement funds for home mortgages and continue the progress that has been made in attracting new industries to Maryland. The general public is concerned about the crime problem and is looking for tougher sentencing, which will require the building of additional facilities.
Legislation: At the present I do not have any specific legislation to propose. It will be necessary for me to be oriented to the procedures of the legislature once I have been elected. I do not believe in entering bills that are superfluous just to be able to say I have submitted a bill. My major areas of interest lie in educational matters, economic development, dealing with unemployment and protection of the environment, especially the Chesapeake Bay. Once elected I will have more requires available to do the necessary research needed to submit bills of quality.
Julia Brown (R), 48, of 15713 Wayne Ave., Laurel, founded Julia Brown Montessori Schools, which she has operated for 16 years. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience in both public and private schools. She is past chairman of the Prince George's County Consumer Protection Commission and the Taxicab Rate Board.
Sentences: I favor guidelines for judges to follow in setting sentences instead of mandatory sentences, because they would accomplish essentially the same results but allow flexibility in rare and truly extenuating circumstances. I support a much needed expansion of our prison system but I am not prepared to specify the details of this expansion -- including the question of whether it should include a maximum security facility for juveniles -- until I have access to more information than I currently have.
Spending: The state should spend more to increase the number of law enforcement officers, provide for their training and put the latest crime-solving technology at their disposal. Additional funding should also be provided to bring the state highway system up to our current needs. The state should save money by reducing the budgets of those agencies which do little more than oversee local agencies that actually supply services.
Legislation: I intend to propose legislation specifying guidelines for judges to follow when they pass sentences for violent crimes. In addition, I intend to propose legislation requiring the state to formulate a master plan for handling accidental spills of dangerous substances by trucks and trains on the many highways and the railroad track in my district. Next, I would introduce legislaton providing for a source of revenue to fund the purchasing of additional classroom computers for our schools and the training of teachers in their use.
Susan R. Buswell (D), 46, of 6053 Old Lawyers Hill Rd., Elkridge, is executive assistant of the state Association of Elementary School Administrators. A member of the Howard County School Board since 1973 and chairman for two years, she also has served as president of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and on education advisory committees.
Sentences: Imposition of mandatory sentences is valid only if the state provides adequate facilities for incarceration of convicted criminals. I favor more definitive guidelines for sentencing, which would provide for greater uniformity of judicial sentencing. It is important that judges be able to impose a sentence with reasonable assurance that adequate prison space is available and will remain available during the length of the sentence. Clearly, some juvenile offenders must be adequately segregated from others of their age group because of the nature and number of their crimes. The number of such juveniles is relatively small. A separate facility with improved security within the current juvenile justice system would provide separation while allowing for greater rehabilitation possibilities available at a larger facility.
Spending: Areas in which the state might justify spending greater amounts of money are those with the possibility of long-term savings. Education returns five to 10 times its cost in future taxes within a relatively short time.Rehabilitation for criminal offenders and job retraining hold potential for long-term tax savings. Adequate maintenance of the state's physical plant -- roads and buildings -- will prove more cost effective than neglect. It is the responsibility of all legislators to examine critically government expenditures. I do not approach the budget as an open-ended document. Support for increased expenditures in some areas to realize long-term savings must be coupled with a willingness to seek reductions in other areas. I will devote my efforts to a critical budget review and to support of the state's economy.
Legislation: I believe it would be presumptuous for me to assume sufficient specific knowledge to provide a proposed bill. I will be bring nine years experience as a public official. I have sought information, received staff reports, weighed divergent opinions in order to reach a decision. I anticipate using my substantial experience in reviewing multimillion-dollar budgets and my service on statewide fiscal committees to actively review the state budget.I do not seek to become a delegate in order to pass a specific piece of legislation, but rather to become involved in an active review of economical provision of necessary governmental services. In the future I would like to assist with legislation to stimulate the state's economy and to provide for an improved judicial system and adequate and equitable education for all students.
Donald Messenger (R), 47, of 10497 Graeloch Rd., Laurel, has practiced law in Maryland for more than 20 years. He has headed the Prince George's County Consumer Protection Commission and has served on county Republican Central Committees, the Elections Board and the Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital Board.
Sentences: In the last session of the legislature, Senate Bill No. 444 failed. This bill would have required that judges impose a one-year sentence for anyone convicted of unlawfully carrying a handgun. The bill also would have required a judge not electing to impose that sentence to explain in writing the reason for a lesser sentence to the administrative offices of the courts. I would favor passage of this bill. In addition, I believe consideration should be given to determining additional areas for mandatory sentencing for serious crime, particularly drug dealing and use of guns in the commission of crime. A maximum security facility for juvenile offenders is needed. The juvenile justice system must be changed to cope effectively with hard-core repeat juvenile offenders of serious crime to take them out of the community until they have been rehabilitated and to keep them segregated from less serious juvenile offenders.
Spending: Money should be made available to expand the state's guarantee program for small-business development. Other innovative business development programs should be funded. Additional funds should also be spent to promote tourism in Maryland. A job retraining program should be funded through the community colleges and vocational schools to retrain persons out of work to qualify them for available jobs. We must do a better job in the state to put people to work and to create a favorable climate for business development and expansion. Investment of tax funds in these areas will pay dividends by increasing tax revenues, which in turn will make tax dollars available for other programs. All spending programs should be carefully considered to make sure that tax dollars are used wisely to get maximum benefit to the citizens of the state for each tax dollar spent.
Legislation: 1) I believe a bill for additional funding for the state's guarantee program for small-business development is needed. 2) Legislation changing the defense of "not guilty by reason of insanity" to "guilty but insane" should be passed. 3) Legislation creating a state-supported job retraining program for the unemployed through the community colleges and vocational schools should be introduced. 4) Legislation is needed to require mandatory sentences for unlawful possession of a handgun and other areas of serious crime should be considered for mandatory sentencing. 5) A bill limiting purchase of farmland by foreign nationals should be on the legislative agenda. 6) A bill requiring covers for trucks hauling gravel or other loose material should be considered.