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Justice Reinvestment Act gets bipartisan show of support

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Republicans and Democrats met for bagels and bipartisanship Wednesday to voice support for the Justice Reinvestment Act, a bill aimed at reducing the prison population by diverting nonviolent offenders to drug treatment rather than incarceration.

Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, joined delegates and senators from both parties Wednesday morning in Annapolis. He said Justice Reinvestment was an effort he started that was coming “full circle” now.

“We get paid to do justice, governors particularly should be concerned about justice,” Ehrlich said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, estimated final passage would come in the next five or six days.

Republicans and Democrats would sit on the conference committee to work out differences between the Senate version, which passed 46-0, and the House version, which is still in committee.

Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, vice chair of the House Judiciary committee, said she thought the bill would progress in the full House later this week.