Criminal law practitioners and stakeholders now have a handy guide to understanding Maryland’s massive Justice Reinvestment Act, which is partially in effect since becoming law last year, with more changes scheduled to come.
The Maryland Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council pulled together the guide to explain sentencing, release and rehabilitation and community supervision changes in a way that’s probably easier to digest than lengthy Senate Bill 1005.
Through charts which show the previous law and current law side by side, the guide lays out new drug sentencing laws and amendments to misdemeanor and felony theft conviction amounts and sentences.
For example, a first-time offender convicted of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, previously subject to up to four years in prison, can now only be sentenced to a maximum of one year. Amounts for the various levels of misdemeanor and felony theft were raised and maximum sentences reduced.
The guide also lays out changes to the parole system, including the removal of mandatory minimum terms for subsequent offenses for certain drug crimes and changes parole eligibility from 25 percent of a sentence served to 50 percent for a third or subsequent conviction committed after October this year.
An oversight board will monitor compliance with the law, staffed by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, and an advisory board will include representatives from advocacy groups.