Every Marylander deserves to feel safe in their homes and businesses, in their schools and in their neighborhoods. They need to know that our criminal justice system is fair, swift and equal in its application and enforcement of the law, and in its imposition of punishment. And they need to know that once people enter the criminal justice system, they will come out newly prepared to live productive, law-abiding lives and contribute to the betterment of their communities. These are guiding principles for Governor Hogan.
When it comes to crime and justice, Governor Hogan seeks to distinguish between non-violent offenders who made mistakes and need a second chance versus repeat violent criminals who belong behind bars.
In 2016, the Governor Hogan partnered with legislators from both parties to enact the innovative Justice Reinvestment Act. Designed to help end the mass incarceration of non-violent criminals, the JRA represented the largest and most comprehensive criminal justice reform to become law in Maryland in a generation. This law is helping transform and modernize the state’s criminal justice system to better protect our communities by providing treatment to non-violent offenders struggling with addiction, and supervising low-level offenders in the community where they can work to get back on the right path.
But Governor Hogan also believes that criminals who threaten our families with violence and deadly, hardcore drugs deserve harsh penalties. That is why he introduced a series of initiatives to combat criminal gangs and repeat violent offenders who participate in violent crime throughout the state - especially in Baltimore City.
First, the governor introduced his promised “truth-in-sentencing” initiative to ensure that repeat violent offenders serve their full sentences by making them ineligible for parole. This proposal goes hand-in-hand with emergency legislation doubling from five to ten years the minimum sentence for violent criminals who use guns to commit crimes.
Governor Hogan also established Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes to allow prosecutors to better target drug traffickers and criminal gangs, and unveiled the Criminal Intelligence Network (a system of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies) to allow for greater communication and more effective collaboration to break down drug trafficking and violent crime operations throughout the state.
Utilizing the new Criminal Intelligence Network, Governor Hogan also announced a joint law enforcement effort between state agencies, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Baltimore City Police Department to establish a more visible presence in the high crime areas of Baltimore City and ramp-up coordinated efforts to serve open warrants. This 30-day operation led to 500 arrests, including 259 of the city’s most violent criminals being removed from the streets.
Just three months after the governor was sworn into office, riots erupted in Baltimore City after protests over the death of Freddie Gray turned violent. Governor Hogan acted decisively, declaring a State of Emergency, immediately moving all key operations to the city, and calling on more than 5,000 Maryland National Guardsmen and local law enforcement to assist the Baltimore City Police Department in ending the rioting and violence. Due to the governor’s rapid and effective response, calm was restored preventing continued violence and property damage to public buildings and private businesses.
Responding to the years of frustrations in the African American community that culminated with the riots, the governor signed a series of bills into law that increased civilian oversight and required reporting for the Baltimore City Police Department. The governor also increased, for the first time in nearly 30 years, the limits for a civil lawsuit damage claim against a local or state government.
The governor also announced Project C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise), a $100 million blight removal program in Baltimore City, with an additional $600 million in financing available for redevelopment, to remove abandoned, dilapidated properties that had become breeding grounds for crime. He also provided expanded job training opportunities in the community. These moves expand economic opportunities in these troubled neighborhoods.
Later in 2015, Governor Hogan again took swift action to close down the deplorable and unsafe Baltimore City Men’s Detention Center that had been overrun by gangs and corruption. Lawmakers had talked about closing it for over a decade, but failed to take any action. But, in a matter of weeks, the governor closed it down and ended the problems. Now, Governor Hogan proposes turning the facility into a mental health and substance abuse treatment center.
Another critical piece to public safety is ensuring that victims of crime are not forgotten and are treated with the dignity and the respect they deserve. Governor Hogan has proposed a number of legislative initiatives to help protect our most vulnerable citizens and create an environment in which victims feel safe coming forward, and empower them to heal and rebuild their lives. These initiatives were bolstered by securing over $110 million in Victim of Crime Act Assistance grants to back these initiatives.
Governor Hogan also pushed for and enacted other multiple pieces of crime-fighting and victim protection legislation.
In 2016, 148 people in Maryland were killed in crashes that involved someone impaired by drugs or alcohol. In response, Governor Hogan enacted Noah’s Law, named for Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was tragically struck and killed by a drunk driver while conducting a stop. This landmark legislation requires ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of drunk driving in Maryland. Additionally, Governor Hogan introduced and passed the Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act, which targets repeat offenders by creating a felony drunk driving offense.
The governor also took strong action to protect women and children from sexual predators. It is well known that sexual predators follow patterns of behavior, and that a single victim is rarely the perpetrator’s only victim. That’s why Governor Hogan reintroduced the Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act, which allows a court to admit evidence of a defendant’s prior history of sexual assaults during prosecution for subsequent sexual offenses. In addition, Governor Hogan also introduced and pushed for the Felony Human Trafficking Act, which will classify felony human trafficking as a violent crime, ensuring offenders serve more time in prison.
To ensure that rape victims are not forced to interact with their attacker, Governor Hogan signed into law the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act – a bill to deny parental rights to rapists, and it was the first bill he signed into law during the 2018 legislative session.
As he has done from the very beginning, Governor Hogan is committed to ensuring the safety of Marylanders.