The other day we talked about a meeting being called by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to discuss the skyrocketing murder rate and gang violence problem in Baltimore. That discussion focused on the fact that a panel of judges invited to the meeting had declined to attend. The meeting went forward without them as planned and produced some proposals to address the city’s problems, at least one of which is definitely worth a closer look.
What Governor Hogan is focusing on is the relatively light sentences that persons convicted of gun crimes receive, many of whom do no time in jail at all. And those who are sentenced to prison frequently wind up doing only a small fraction of the time. The Governor is asking for some “truth in sentencing” which will ensure that criminals know that the city is serious and that they will pay a steep price for their crimes. (Baltimore Sun)
After a closed-door meeting about “out of control” violent crime in Baltimore, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday he plans to propose a major crime package during next year’s General Assembly session that includes truth-in-sentencing legislation.
The Republican governor met for about an hour in Baltimore with elected officials, including Mayor Catherine Pugh, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, all Democrats, as well as Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and acting U.S. Attorney for Maryland Stephen Schenning.
Afterward, Hogan said he was frustrated that violent repeat offenders are not receiving long prison sentences.
“We keep putting the same exact violent people on the streets,” Hogan said. “We’ve got to get them off the streets.”
Some of the statistics that the Governor and the Police Chief are highlighting are truly alarming. The majority of the murders involve gang members as both the perpetrator and the victim. And on average, these shooting victims have themselves been arrested ten times previously. How on Earth do criminals have that many contacts with the legal system and not wind up being taken off the battlefield?
In any event, Hogan announced that he wants the state legislature to step in and do what the city tried, but failed to accomplish. They need tougher sentencing for gun crimes and those sentences need to mean something. Hogan was quoted as saying, “if you say you’re going to get this number of years, you’re going to get that number of years.” And presumably he means that you’re actually going to do that number of years.
He’s not going to have an easy time of it. Maryland’s Attorney General, Brian Frosh, came out right after Hogan’s remarks and contradicted most of them. He claims to never have agreed to any sort of truth in sentencing law and immediately pivoted to blaming their crime problem on…. Donald Trump.
“We have a problem in our country, led by the White House, of disrespect for the judiciary and disrespect for the rule of law. I think that’s the last thing we want to do in the state of Maryland,” Frosh said.
Getting the Democrat controlled municipal government of Baltimore to go along with the plan will be tough enough. But now Hogan is going to be dealing with a recalcitrant Attorney General (also a Democrat) who will apparently be trying to undermine the reforms. This all reeks of politics and none of it is doing a thing to help the citizens of Baltimore who are essentially living in a war zone.