News from Annapolis
2016 Session:  Week 8                             Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
February 29 to March 6
"Justice Reinvestment"
This week's Newsletter focuses on one of the most important issues that will come before the legislature this year: the reform of the State's criminal justice system.
  • Transportation Bill  Follow-UP
  • Justice Reinvestment Initiative
  • OPINION:  A Tyranny of the Majority
  • Tonight: District 9 Open House 6 pm-8 pm

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Legislature's Plan to Hi-Jack  decision-making for transportation capital projects
As we reported in last week's Newsletter, HB 1013 creates a scoring system where projects are awarded points based on various criteria. The scoring is weighted heavily in favor of urban areas and mass transit, and fails to recognize that different parts of the state have different needs.
The Department of Transportation applied the Bill's formula to the existing proposed projects, and the pie chart above shows the results.  The projects scoring highest are virtually all transit oriented and almost all are in Montgomery County.
This bill has to be defeated!
Justice Reinvestment

1.   What IS "Justice Reinvestment" 
     The Justice Reinvestment Initiative ("JRI") is a nation-wide effort to encourage states to review their sentencing and correctional policies to promote a more efficient and cost-effective spending of  t axpayer funds .  
     The essence of the Initiative is to reduce the number of people in high-cost prison beds and use the savings to create a robust system of release and reentry practices for non-violent offenders.
2.     Is it Effective?
JRI reduces prison population and crime rate in states
            For example, North Carolina enacted its JRI in 2011.  Since then, the prison population has fallen 8%, crime has decreased by 11%, and the state has saved an estimated $560 million in costs and funded 175 new probation officers to strengthen community supervision.
3.   Who Supports it?
First panel testifying in favor of the  GOVERNOR'S  Legislation ( HB 1312) included :
*  Speaker of the House, Michael Busch -  TOP DEMOCRAT
*  State's Attorney for Baltimore County, Scott Shellenberger - TOP PROSECUTOR
*  Paul DeWolfe, Public Defender --  TOP PUBLIC DEFENDER

Below are some of the bi-partisan organizations that supported the legislation:
Americans for Tax Reform
Right on Crime
The American Conservative Union Foundation
Faith & Freedom Coalition
Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center
Maryland Catholic Conference
Maryland Correctional Administration Assoc
Maryland Hospital Association
Office of the Attorney General
Mental Health Association of Maryland
Talbot County Democratic Forum
Maryland Disability Law Center
U.S. Justice Action Network
Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform
America's Top Cop
   Once called America's "Top Cop," Bernie Kerik was Chief of the N.Y. City Police under Rudy Guiliani, ran Riker's Prison, and was nominated to  head of the Dept. of Homeland Security, in 1991 -- until it was learned that he hadn't been paying taxes for the nanny his family employed.  
    He was sentenced to four years, and served three years and 11 days in the federal prison in Cumberland Maryland.  The experience led him to write a book called From Jailer to Jailed.      
In the book, Kerik details his experience and what it taught him about the failure of the criminal justice system.  
    "I'm speaking out for criminal justice reform, writing this book. But part of me still feels lost.  I'm not sure I'll ever feel whole again. The system beats you down in a way that remains, in a way you can't fully grasp and don't realize even when you'r a part of it."
4.  Overview of current data
  • Over 21,000 people in prison
  • 58% are for non-violent crime
  • 60% of prison admissions are re-admissions of parolees and probationers who have violated a condition of release 
  • When they become eligible, violent offenders are granted parole sooner than non-violent offenders, often because of the lack of drug treatment beds and other community-based programs needed for non-violent offenders.
  • Within three years after release, 40% of former inmates commit new crimes and are returned to jail -- a 40% rate of recidivism
  • Within five years after release, we have a 70% recidivism rate.
5.  The Bill's 19 proposals
Focus Prison Beds on Serious and Violent Offenders 
  1. Revise drug possession penalties to maximize recidivism reduction
  2. Require the Department of Health and mental Hygiene to promptly place offenders sentenced to residential drug treatment beds
  3. Revise drug penalties for crack and powder cocaine (eliminate disparity)
  4. Raise the felony theft threshold (from $1,000 to $2,000) and concentrate longer prison terms on higher level theft offenders
  5. Expand in-prison good behavior and program incentive credits.
  6. Retroactive application of the mandatory minimum safety valve and shifting presumption such that burden is on the state to argue for mandatory minimum rather than on defendant to argue for safety valve
  7. Expand alternatives to incarceration (drug treatment) in the Sentencing Guidelines and include suspended sentences in calculating guideline compliance
  8. Require the Judiciary's Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office to identify best practices to criminal justice referrals to mediation

Strengthen Probation and Parole Supervision

9.  Use a validated risk and needs assessment tool to determine supervision levels

10. Use Swift, Certain, and Proportional Sanctions for violations of probation and parole, and cap the amount of time a judge may return an offender for a technical violation (defined as any violation that does not include an arrest, a conviction, or a violation of a no-contact order)

11. Establish evidence-based standards for supervision practices

12. Strengthen the earned compliance credit program for probation and parole

 Improve and Enhance Release and Reentry Practices

13. Streamline parole and focus parole hearings on serious, violent offenders and on non-compliant nonviolent offenders.

14. Lower age of eligibility for geriatric parole consideration from 65 to 60 and exclude currently eligible sex offenders with a registerable offense

15. Expand the sue of medical parole

16. Establish a Certificate of Completion for first time, nonviolent and non-sex offenders who successfully complete supervision to restore their rights to obtain professional certifications

 Support Local Corrections Systems

17. Eliminate jail as a penalty for first time driving while suspended and driving without a license

18. Establish a performance-incentive county grant program

 Ensure Oversight and Accountability

 19. Establish an oversight council and tract performance

Everyone Agrees:    The criminal justice system in Maryland isn't working  
The Bottom Line: Let's do what WORKS to Reduce Crime

It doesn't matter whether a nonviolent offender is in prison for 21 or 24 or 27 months. What really matters is that the system do a better job of making sure that when an offender does get out -- which they all will -- that he or she is less likely to commit another crime.

Tyranny of the Majority
--by Del. Trent Kittleman
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Today, the four largest jurisdictions in the state imposed their will on the other 19 counties by imposing upon every Community College in the state the potential to be unionized.  The 19 "other" counties strongly object to this bill.
Before the General Assembly passes any legislation, there should be a need - a reason to create a new law. 
The makers of the bill acknowledge that there has been NO request for this bill from any individual or organization asking for this legislation.  There have been no complaints from any individual or organization from any of the 19 jurisdictions being affected.
The Association of Community Colleges - which includes members from the four jurisdictions whose community colleges are unionized - oppose it.
Delegates from county after county offered amendments requesting that their county be exempted from the bill.  Again and again, the majority voted each amendment down.
Another amendment suggested that before a union could begin organizing on community college campuses, there be a public hearing in the county so that parents, students and taxpayers as well as employees and administrators of the colleges could participate.  So they could learn the likely impact on student tuition, on taxes, and on employee paychecks when union dues are imposed, should a community college be unionized. 
That amendment was voted down - by the same Democratic majority [81 to 50].
For the last 100 years, the General Assembly has operated under the protocol of "local courtesy."  That means, if an individual county wants to try something new or different in their own county, the body will vote for the bill -- regardless of how they feel about the substance of the bill - respecting the unique interests of each county.  The right to unionize their local community colleges was given to each of the four large local jurisdictions - Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Prince Georges County and Baltimore County - in four separate local "delegation" bills.  We gave them "local courtesy.
Now, those four counties want to impose their local decisions onto the rest of the State.  Against the will of every one of the 19 other counties.
That's not local courtesy.  That's tyranny of the majority.
Scholarship Information 
District 9A residents attending a college, university, trade school or equivalent in the State of Maryland are eligible for the Delegate Scholarship. Current high school seniors and full-time (12+ credits per semester) or part-time (6-11 credits per semester), degree-seeking under-graduate students, graduate students, and students attending a private career school may apply. 
For questions regarding the application process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with   Chelsea Leigh Murphy  at   410-841-3556.  

Please be sure to have your completed application   postmarked by April 10, 2016.

Click here  to download the scholarship application for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *   Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy