Calling violent crime in Baltimore “the most important issue facing the city, and the number one concern of Marylanders,” Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday again called on the Maryland General Assembly to pass his crime bill.
While the governor listed several anti-crime measures his administration has taken, he said the Violent Firearms Offender Act was “unfinished business” that would “help us get the shooters and the murderers off the streets.”
The bill would expand penalties for people convicted of certain firearm-related crimes, expand the types of cases in which prosecutors could appeal and prohibit District Court commissioners from “authorizing the pretrial release of a certain defendant charged with a certain firearm-related crime under certain circumstances.”
Hogan said he’d directed the state police and other state law enforcement agencies to help back up the Baltimore Police Department so they can focus on violent street crime; provided $3.5 million for 30 new positions in the federal U.S. Attorney’s office and another $35 million in victim-services money; $6.5 million to help the Baltimore police enforce open warrants, and more.
“Right now,” Hogan claimed, “nobody’s going to jail. They’re not being prosecuted; they’re not being sentenced.”
He also touted his initiative for more police funding, as well as investments that have been made in drug treatment, mental health counseling, education, and workforce and economic development.
“All those things can make a difference in crime over decades,” Hogan said, “but they’re not going to stop the people who are getting shot this weekend.”
He began Thursday’s news conference by listing off the numbers, and some of the names, connected with violence in Baltimore, including grandmother Cheryl McCormick and restaurant manager Chelsea Patterson.
“Seventy-one days have now passed since the legislative session began without them taking action on our emergency crime bill,” Hogan said. “Over those 71 days, 143 more people have been shot, and 64 more people have been killed, in Baltimore City.”
The Senate has passed one of Hogan’s priorities: a judicial transparency act, which would provide more public data on sentencing. The bill was amended to remove sentencing data that would focus on individual judges; instead, it would provide sentencing data by county.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.