The Maryland General Assembly has done crime victims a grave disservice by voting to override Governor Hogan’s veto of Senate Bill 494.
This Bill, which will become law on October 1st, permits juveniles convicted as adults of serious crimes, to obtain an automatic review of their sentences after 20 years’ incarceration and again 3 and 6 years thereafter. Because the reviewing Judge may not increase the sentence, the legislation offers convicted murderers, rapists, and other felons the opportunity to evade the parole system and get out of prison prematurely.
Senate Bill 494 was opposed by State’s Attorneys across Maryland and locally by Senator Bailey (R), Delegate Fisher (R), Delegate Clark (R), and me. Why? Because of the adverse impact on victims and their families.
At each review hearing, victims will be compelled to revisit the horror inflicted upon them by the defendant. Moreover, the procedure will not be fair. In almost every case, the hearings will be handled by Judges and prosecutors who did not initially participate in the case and who are unfamiliar with the facts and circumstances.
What happened to victim’s rights? What happened to truth in sentencing? The public deserves to know that a Judge’s sentence means what it says. Increasingly, it means less and less.
Robert H. Harvey, Jr.
State’s Attorney for Calvert County