Director of Communications and External Affairs
Justice Policy Institute
Following Governor Hogan’s announcement, JPI calls for effective action informed by data and facts.
(WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2017) –The Governor’s “new” crime package rehashes the failed narrative of the 1990s, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions rather than create sound policy that would actually decrease crime. Announcing that you will be “immediately taking these criminals off the streets” may make for good copy, but it makes for bad policy.
We all agree that even one crime victim is too many – so we must understand that the Governor’s agenda will not decrease crime and violence.
“Governor Hogan’s proposal to increase sentences and create new mandatory minimums flies in the face of research on what we know works to prevent violence and reduce crime,” said Marc Schindler, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute. “His approach draws straight from the Trump/Sessions playbook and returns us to the failed ‘get tough’ policies of the 90s that resulted in mass incarceration and devastated communities of color.”
Those most affected by violent crime say they want a different solution. The Alliance for Safety and Justice surveyed violent crime victims last year and found that a majority consistently preferred prevention strategies over increased incarceration. The survey found that 61% preferred shorter sentences and more spending on prevention and rehabilitation; 89% preferred investment in education, and 83% preferred investment in mental health treatment, over investment in prisons and jails.
JPI’s recent report, The Right Investment, examined the justice system’s impact by neighborhood in Baltimore and found that communities most impacted by the justice system also had the highest unemployment rates, lowest high school graduation rates and lowest median household income. It’s clear where we need to be investing our crime dollars.
Research on long sentences, mandatory minimums and transferring youth to adult court shows these policies do not make communities safer. Maryland spends more than a billion dollars on its prison system, yet Maryland and Baltimore policymakers were scrambling last year to find $1 million dollars to continue the Safe Streets program which helps de-escalate conflicts and provides services to those who are at-risk of committing crimes as a way to help stop the cycle of violence.
The Governor’s “new” strategy will not make us safer, it will just result in significantly increasing the years people spend behind bars, growing our already outsized prison population. As we’ve seen in the past, harsher sentencing and mandatory minimums disproportionately affect people of color and vulnerable communities – they don’t decrease violence or reduce the likelihood that someone will reoffend.
Rather than simply echo President Trump and Jeff Sessions’ “get tough” policies, Governor Hogan should double down on funding smart-on-crime approaches that would actually improve public safety. As Governor Hogan said last year while supporting the Justice Reinvestment Act, “In order to achieve lasting results in our criminal justice system, we must strike a balance and explore better, smarter options that reduce recidivism and help those who have served their time get back on their feet.”
He was right then, and he should heed his own words now and “explore better, smarter options” that research shows will reduce crime and help make our communities safer.
For more information visit: justicepolicy.org
The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to reducing the use of incarceration and the justice system by promoting fair and effective policies.