Wednesday, February 22, 2017
A last minute amendment grafted onto the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) enacted in 2016, scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2017, would have serious negative consequences for the safety and well being of Maryland’s children, as well other vulnerable populations. Prior to JRA, the only convictions eligible for expungement were convictions for a few specified public nuisance crimes, such as loitering and vagrancy. The JRA, however, as a result of the amendment, now includes a provision that , according to the Daily Record, “would dramatically expand the number of crimes eligible for expungement” to at least one hundred and thirteen crimes -- three times more if attempted crimes, conspiracy or solicitation for each offense is counted. Little, if any, attention was given at the time to the public safety implications of certain specific crimes permitted to be expunged or the impact of these expungements on criminal history records checks used to screen those who work with or have access to children, the elderly and those with disabilities. It should be noted that in its consensus report, the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council never recommended any expungements.
SB 774 (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/20
17RS/bills/sb/sb0774f.pdf) would exempt from expungement convictions for second degree assault when the victim of the offense was disabled, a vulnerable adult, or a minor. In addition, it would preclude the expungement of convictions under section 11-306a of the Criminal Law Article which involve the prostitution of children. The bill lists all the crimes to be expunged after ten years by section number without the name of the crime .
Second-degree assault, section 3-203 0f the Criminal Law Article, a crime against a person, is deemed to be a violent crime in a list in one section of Maryland law. It is important to know that a conviction for second degree assault against anyone is in and of itself is troubling. It is especially troubling if an individual committed the crime against a vulnerable person or a child. Most disturbing is that second degree assault, a nonsexual crime, it is all too often a plea bargain down from a serious sexual crime. These plea bargains allow sex offenders to avoid registration.
To illustrate, a Montgomery County elementary school teacher pleaded guilty to four counts of second degree assault after originally being charged with 11 felony counts of child sexual abuse. Ultimately, he did not have to register as a sex offender or serve jail time. (WJLA.com December 2, 2013).
To obliterate all records regarding a sex offender’s conviction for second degree assault, including underlying sexual assault/abuse charges, allows the sex offender to completely obscure his record and, thus, precludes the ability of schools, day care centers, and camps, nursing homes and nonprofits who serve the disabled, etc. from adequately screening individuals who apply for these sensitive positions. The state of Maryland has an obligation, first and foremost, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, not destroy the records of those who pose a danger to them .
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Maryland Children. If you have any questions, please contact Ellen Mugmon firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact committee members with the message that they should SUPPORT SB 774 - Criminal Procedure - Petition for Expungement.
The Baltimore Sun published a letter about this: http://www.baltimoresun.com/ne
s/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed -expunge-letter-20160613-story .html)
MARYLAND SENATE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE PHONE AND EMAILS:
Robert A. (Bobby) Zirkin, Chair (D-11)
James Brochin (D-42)
Delores G. Kelley, Vice Chair (D-10)
Justin D. Ready (R-5)
Carroll & Frederick Counties
Michael J. Hough (R-4)
Cecil & Harford Counties
Wayne Norman (R-35)
Robert G. Cassilly (R-34)
Susan C. Lee (D-16)
William C. (Will) Smith, Jr. (D-20)
Prince George's County
C. Anthony Muse (D-26)
E -mail: email@example.com
Victor R. Ramirez (D-47)