Hoyer seeks ways to im­prove crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form in Mary­land

So­lu­tions in­clude in­vest­ing in men­tal health, early child­hood devel­op­ment and ed­u­ca­tion

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

The United States’ crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem faces sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges — over the past 25 years, the prison and jail pop­u­la­tion reached an all-time high and the num­ber of peo­ple on pro­ba­tion and pa­role dou­bled. Nearly 2 mil­lion of these in­di­vid­u­als were in­car­cer­ated for their crimes, while the re­main­ing five mil­lion were on pro­ba­tion or pa­role be­ing su­per­vised in the com­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to the White House Of­fice of Na­tional Drug Con­trol Pol­icy (ONDCP) web­site.

ONDCP is fo­cus­ing on key ac­tiv­i­ties and pol­icy is­sues that will not only ad­vance an ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, but ad­dress the needs of the of­fender while en­sur­ing the safety of the com­mu­nity. In an ef­fort to seek so­lu­tions to im­prove Mary­land’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) met with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, ad­vo­cates and com­mu­nity stake­hold­ers Mon­day for a round­table dis­cus­sion on crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form at Prince Ge­orge’s Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Largo.

“I think all of us rec­og­nize that crim­i­nal jus­tice is bro­ken. It’s not ef­fec­tive, it’s too costly and in many in­stances, is just ir­ra­tional and does not make sense,” said Alexan­der Wil­liams, Jr., a re­tired judge of the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the Dis­trict of Mary­land. “One of the things that al­ways both­ered me was that we put more money on the re­ac­tionary as­pect of crim­i­nal jus­tice rather than at the front end to look at the root causes of crime.”

Wil­liams said he is con­cerned about the death rates among black males, a de­mo­graphic which ac­counts for over 5,000 homi­cides ev­ery year. How­ever, law en­force­ment of­fi­cials aren’t to­tally to blame, he said.

“I was hop­ing that, at some point, Congress would ac­cept that as a na­tional is­sue, a se­ri­ous na­tional is­sue and ad­dress it,” Wil­liams said. “You just can’t have things like what hap­pened in Bal­ti­more City this year [with] 300 and some­thing homi­cides. When you mul­ti­ply that across the coun­try

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