The sentencing guidelines in the state are what the court uses to determine the length of a sentence that a person receives for a particular criminal act. In some cases, such as when a person is charged with a minor theft case or a drug case, the sentencing guidelines are particularly harsh. That means that the prison population is teeming with people who might need treatment or other help instead of simply being thrown into prison.
Governor Larry Hogan has recently signed legislation that will overhaul the sentencing guidelines for some crimes. It is estimated that this will help to reduce the population in the state's prisons by around 1,000 inmates.
The overhaul of the system is aimed at helping to prevent crime and offer treatment to some people who are more in need of help than they are in need of incarceration. Sentences for people who are facing crimes for thefts and drugs are some of the sentences that will be reduced.
This huge reform this is present in the Justice Reinvestment Act is meant to correct some of the issues that have been languishing since the war on drugs that occurred in the 1980s. Some people aren't happy with the large overhaul, but others say that this is something that was past due.
The provisions in the act aren't in effect yet. Some of them will go into effect in October of this year, but others aren't going to become effective until Oct. 2017.
Even though some convictions will soon be associated with less serious sentences, people facing those charges shouldn't think that they can be lax in their defense. A conviction would still show on your criminal record and could still lead to issues later in life.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Hogan signs bill to overhaul Maryland criminal justice system," Michael Dresser, May 18, 2016