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Bill would reduce stigma of criminal conviction in Maryland

Individuals with criminal convictions can face a lot of stigma and consequences that impact the rest of their lives. Having a criminal record can affect your ability to find employment and housing as well as impact your voting rights and other opportunities. 

The stigma associated with certain criminal convictions could lessen if a new bill is passed and signed into law. The bill would give offenders in Maryland could be given a second chance at many opportunities that they currently do not have.

What exactly would the bill do? Listed below are the ways the bill would impact offenders:

  • Voting rights would be restored for ex-felons upon release
  • Records for crimes no longer considered a crime would be expunged
  • Removal of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders in certain cases
  • Review the state’s criminal justice system
  • Create a program to help ex-offenders run small businesses

Supporters of the bill said that it will help individuals convicted of non-violent offenses a chance at a new future where they can be successful and part of a community. Supporters also say this bill will help reduce the “stigma” of having a criminal record as well as help with economic growth in the state.

As with any bill, there is some opposition. Critics of the bill say that it only considers ex-offenders and fails to see how it will impact public safety and victims of crimes or what law enforcement officials think of the bill.

Despite the debate over the bill, it could have a significant impact on offenders in Maryland if it passes. 

Source: Daily Reporter, “Bills to help ex-offenders, certain criminals getting support in General Assembly chambers,” Meredith Somers, April 5, 2015

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