Editor’s note: The following commentary aired on wbal.com on February 6, 2019.
Governor Larry Hogan has called on the Maryland General Assembly to enact two new legislative proposals to address violent crime. Both proposals have merit and should be strongly supported by state legislators and private-sector leaders.
The first is the Judicial Transparency Act of 2019. It would require that an annual report be published each year detailing the specific crimes that a defendant has been convicted of, the punishment handed down and the identity of the sentencing judge.
The Greater Baltimore Committee has concluded that Maryland fails to provide sufficient public access to criminal sentencing information. It’s time to rectify this gap. Transparency in criminal sentencing reinforces the key role that the judicial system plays in law enforcement.
The second proposal is the Repeat Firearms Offenders Act of 2019. It would increase the minimum sentence for repeat gun offenders who use a gun in the commission of a crime to 10 years in jail.
Critics argue that minimum sentences lead to mass incarceration. But mass incarceration is not the intent and the law will only impact a limited number of criminal offenders. Repeat gun-toting offenders are a significant factor in the high level of violent crime that plagues Baltimore.
It’s time we employ powerful new tools to end the violence and personal tragedy. If passed these two initiatives are sure to add momentum to the other efforts to end the scourge of violent crime in Baltimore – and make it a safer place for all.
I’m Don Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.