Criminals may get a second chance with the Maryland Second Look Act

MARYLAND – Senate bill 842, also known as the Maryland Second Look Act, is in the works to give criminals a second chance to have their sentencing reconsidered.

It’s another chance, that some organizations say may do more harm than good, especially for the victims on the receiving end of the crime.

“Why should the victims and the survivors to the victims have to go to process after process within the court system to ensure that that doesn’t happen?” says Kurt Wolfgang.

Kurt Wolfgang is talking about Maryland Senate Bill 842. Wolfgang with the Maryland Crime Victim Resource Center says the bill is well-intentioned, but it does not prioritize the victim. If the legislation is passed, it will authorize a person who is serving a prison term the opportunity to petition to modify or reduce their sentence after 20 years.

“All I’m asking people who are incarcerated be given a second chance, look at their record, if they didn’t create any problems in the system, they should be given a second opportunity,” Senator Joanne Benson explains.

Wolfgang says legislators have to think about the victims, those that would have to relive their trauma again. He says it’s important to consider those who have life sentences, that could also be released.

“They’re going to apply to the Capital Gazette murderer who walked in and killed 5 journalists because they were doing their job,” Wolfgang says.

The advocate also raises concern that when these criminals are released back into society, he says they are more likely to re-offend.

“I don’t think it takes a genius to know when you release that many serious offenders back in society you’re going to have a crime wave,” Wolfgang adds.

But bill sponsor Senator Joanne Benson says it’s about giving criminals the tools they need to prevent recidivism before it happens.

“We want to be sure that we have the necessary resources and mechanisms in place that will ensure they are successful once they’re given the second chance,” Senator Benson concludes.

Maryland Senate Bill 842 is still in the Judiciary Committee, however, Senator Benson is hopeful it will pass. She says there are a number of senators that are sensitive to the bill and see that something needs to be done.

Categories: Check It Out, Maryland