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Maryland Bail Reform Backfires, Drives Up Number of Inmates

A handful of states have eliminated the traditional money bail system, hoping to reduce their inmate population and avoid harming low-income defendants. But one recent study claims bail reform not only doesn’t always work but can prove counter-productive to its professed goals. In 2016, five Maryland state legislators, all opposed to the current bail system,

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Prisoner’s Wrongful Death FTCA Claim Dismissed For Lack of Jurisdiction

The United States District Court for the District of Maryland has dismissed a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) case brought against the United States over the 2013 wrongful death of a prisoner held at Federal Correctional Institution Cumberland, Maryland. The case was brought by the widow and sons of Stephen P. Gardner. They claimed that

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Last Act in Office – Maryland Governor Commutes Four Death Row Prisoners

By Christopher Zoukis In a highly controversial decision, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) commutes the sentences of four death-row prisoners to spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole. An opponent of the death penalty, O’Malley has been fighting to abolish the death penalty for years. “In my judgment, leaving

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Undoing Veto, Maryland Legislators Ease Ex-Felons Voting Rights

An estimated 44,000 ex-felons in Maryland will have an easier time regaining the right to vote after being released from prison, following the end of a heated fight between the state’s governor and its legislature. Without a vote to spare, backers of bills (SB 340, HB 980) to allow ex-felons’ voting privileges to be restored

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What Maryland is missing from the recidivism puzzle: mandatory minimum sentencing

By Christopher Zoukis Maryland incarceration rates have been steadily growing in recent years, as has the average sentence length. In response, The Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council, made up of judges, lawyers, law enforcement, and lawmakers, was struck earlier this year to explore the reasons behind the booming prison population, and they are set to put forth

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Forty Defendants, Including 24 Guards, Convicted in Widespread Corruption Scandal at Baltimore City Jail

  The confessed leader of a powerful gang inside the Baltimore City Detention Center was the government’s star witness at the trial of eight remaining defendants in widespread racketeering, drug smuggling, bribery, extortion and money laundering operation that resulted in criminal charges against dozens of guards, prisoners, jail workers, and other defendants. Tavon “Bulldog” White,

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Maryland Repeals Death Penalty

By Christopher Zoukis

On May 2, 2013, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to abolish the death penalty, and the 18th state – along with the District of Columbia – that has rejected capital punishment. Maryland is the first Southern state to forgo executions in nearly half a century, joining West Virginia, with its 1964 repeal, as the only states below the Mason-Dixon Line without capital punishment on the books. 

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who has been fighting the state’s death penalty with legislative efforts since 2007, and who signed the repeal bill, said in a press release, “Maryland has effectively eliminated a policy that is proven not to work. Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias, and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole.” He added, “Furthermore, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.”

The death penalty repeal, which goes into effect on October 1, 2013, does not explicitly apply to the five men currently on Maryland’s death row. The state’s last execution took place in 2005 when Governor Robert Ehrlich was in office. Present law allows the governor to commute the condemned prisoners’ sentences to life without parole, and O’Malley has said he will consider doing so on a case-by-case basis.

Kirk Bloodsworth, a Maryland man who was the first person in the U.S. to be freed from death row based on DNA evidence, attended the signing ceremony for the repeal bill. “Twenty-eight years ago I was sitting in a death row cell, and it became clear to me that we could execute an innocent man,” he stated. Bloodsworth, who was wrongly sentenced to death for the murder of a 9-year-old girl, said at a news conference, “No innocent person will ever be executed in this state again.”

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Maryland: Registry Changes

By Aaron C. Davis

Maryland officials in recent weeks quietly removed the mug  shot of convicted child molester Robert M. Haines Jr. from the state’s  sex-offender registry.

They also deleted the Internet link to the former  middle school teacher’s guilty plea to charges he abused a 13-year-old student  decades ago. Haines’s physical description, the address of the cottage he lives  in near Annapolis, the make and model of the car he drives: Everything the state  had tracked for years to keep him from anonymity was erased.

Haines was  removed not because he was exonerated of his crime. His information was taken  down because of a recent ruling by the state’s Court of Appeals declaring  sex-offender registration unconstitutional punishment for those who committed  crimes before the registry began in 1995.

Under the ruling, Haines may be  the first of almost one in four registered sex offenders who Maryland could be  forced to scrub from its online database. Maryland officials are now bracing for  the possibility that a wave of lawsuits following his case could require the  state to delist roughly 1,800 of its 8,000 registered sex offenders, state  records, e-mails and interviews show. State officials say they’ll forcefully  challenge each suit.

And the fallout could go further. The state’s  second-highest court is now weighing whether the Haines case should be applied  to a broader group, beginning with a Montgomery County man who pleaded guilty in  2001 to preying on a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl over the  Internet.

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DNA Collection Without a Warrant?: The Maryland v. King Conundrum

The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that implicates serious constitutional issues that affect every person ever charged with a crime.  In Maryland v. King, the Court heard argument on the State of Maryland’s assertion that it should have the right to collect DNA from any suspect arrested for committing a serious felony, not

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