Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday told about 200 advocates for crime victims’ rights that a bipartisan criminal justice bill he intends to sign does not ignore victims’ needs.
Addressing the Crime Victims’ Rights Conference, in Anne Arundel County, Hogan (R) said the legislation, which aims to reduce Maryland’s state prison population and costs by shifting nonviolent drug offenders into treatment, also includes provisions on restitution and funding for victims’ rights programs.
The legislation, known as the Justice Reinvestment Act, requires inmates who are ordered to pay restitution to set aside 25 percent of their inmate earnings for those payments. It also requires the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to study ways to make the collection of restitution more efficient.
“We must make certain that criminals pay victims back for the financial losses caused by their actions,” Hogan said to an audience that included crime victims and their families.
The bill also calls for a portion of the money saved by lowering prison costs to go toward services for victims.
The governor used Friday’s event — which comes on the heels of the Justice Reinvestment Act’s passage by the General Assembly — to assure crime victims that his administration is committed to working with them.
The legislation eliminates mandatory-minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders; increases penalties for several violent crimes, including second-degree murder and kidnapping; and allows some nonviolent criminals to be released from prison earlier.
“Decades ago, victims were expected to stay on the sidelines of the criminal justice system, but today that is no longer true,” Hogan said. “Our administration is committed to helping these individuals rebuild and creating a criminal justice system that does not exclude crime victims and holds those who inflict harm accountable for their actions.”
Christopher Shank, former executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, said the federal government has provided the state with nearly $40 million to assist crime victims. The state is deciding how the money should be used.
In addition to the Justice Reinvestment Act, much of Friday’s conference focused on human trafficking and victims’ compensation.