Updated: Mar 25, 2020
--Annapolis, MD. Advocates love to rally around a social justice issue. On February 4, 2020, DC Project Connect executives and Ms. Lilian Brown attended the Maryland Judiciary Committee hearing to support testimony on a legislative proposal [House Bill 323 (HB323)] which would allow modified or reduce prison sentences for qualified inmates. Proponents of the bill argue that prisoners who were incarcerated at a young age and who have served two decades deserve a second chance. Specifically, for eligibility, the petitioner (inmate) must have served at least 20 years of their term; satisfy diminution credits (good behavior earned credits); and file appropriate petitions (paperwork) to apply for modified or reduced sentences.
Advocates, attorneys, and others who testified in support of House Bill 323 (HB323) noted that the legislation offered hope for those persons who participated in prison education, training, and substance rehabilitation programs. Further, many affected individuals entered the criminal justice system when they were juveniles; experts commented on adolescent brain development and pertinent issues. Opponents of HB 323 cited two primary arguments: (1) victims and families members felt the bill would not allow closure for violent crimes; and (2) the state already has 12 other means to initiate appeals and modifications in prison sentences.