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What You Should Know About Maryland’s 2016 Justice Reform

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There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet. This goes for justice reform as well. In 2016, Maryland passed sweeping reforms in criminal justice known as the Justice Reinvestment Act, and sadly this has left a lot of people with misconceptions. A lot of dangerous myths are floating around too. At the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A., we represent people who’ve been charged with crimes in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Howard Counties.

If you are currently serving on probation or parole, there are a few key things you should understand about the 2016 Justice Reforms.

What Was Behind the Reform? 

The Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform explains that as of 2016 about 58 percent of all the state’s prisoners began as nonviolent offenses. Let’s really look at what this means. It means that most of Maryland’s prison population was either sentenced to jail time due to nonviolent crimes or they were placed on some form of supervision or probation, violated that supervision of probation, and thus ended up in prison.

More shocking perhaps is the fact that as many as 60 percent of all those who are sentenced to prison time in the state simply violated their probation, parole, or supervised release. A person can violate probation, parole, or supervised release by simply:

  • Failing a drug or alcohol test
  • Missing an appointment for counseling or rehabilitation
  • Missing a meeting with a parole or probation officer
  • Any criminal offense – no matter how minor
  • Violating any term or condition of release

Key Changes to Know 

Here is a short list of just a few key changes that were included as part of the Justice Reform in 2016:

  • If you commit a lower level offense for drugs or alcohol, you may be eligible for a treatment or diversion court program where you can get help rather than going on probation and facing harsh jail sentences.
  • If you are convicted of a minor offense (examples may include bad checks, theft, and other petty crimes), you may only need to serve 25 percent of your sentence before obtaining parole.
  • Elderly inmates can seek early parole at 60 years of age instead of 65, as was the case under prior rules.
  • A suspended license is no longer grounds for jail time.
  • If you breach parole or probation by committing minor violations (think drug and alcohol tests, missing appointments, failing conditions of release, etc.), you would first face a number of sanctions and administrative penalties before jail time would be considered.
  • Unless the public is directly at risk, parole violations would typically only result in a 15-day jail term.

How To Defend a Parole or Probation Violation 

If you’ve been released under court supervision or on certain conditions, you should carefully follow the plan. If you are concerned that you may violate your parole or probation, you should speak to an attorney right away to see if changes can be made. As long as you are making a good faith effort to meet the terms of your release, you should not spend years of your life in prison.

While Maryland’s 2016 Justice Reforms are a great start, there are plenty of times when parole and probation violations still result in lengthy jail sentences. Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. today if you need help with a probation or parole violation.

Resources:

ma4jr.org/parole-violations-2/

mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=sb1005&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2016rs

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