Common Sense on Sentencing is needed

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs is trying to do something you would think would’ve made sense from the get-go: truth in sentencing for sex offenders.

Maryland law should be changed so that sex offenders’ sentences are not shortened for good behavior, a state senator said yesterday, days after a man with a record of burglaries involving sex offenses going back 30 years was found in a Dundalk boy’s bedroom.

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican who represents parts of Harford and Cecil counties, said that she intends to introduce a bill in the next legislative session that would prevent sex offenders from spending less time in jail because of good conduct, a practice known as diminution.

“You assume that when someone is sentenced to 25 years and it’s a mandatory sentence without parole that that person is not going to see the light of day for 25 years,” Jacobs said. “The average person doesn’t know about diminution credits and that’s why they’re so outraged right now.”

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You would think that this kind of common-sense legislation would sail through Annapolis, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that the trial lawyers will make sure that this gets shoved in a committee drawer somewhere.

This goes back to the greater concept of our justice system in the first place. Why do we sentence criminals to five years if they are on the street in two? Or less? Why is a sentence not a sentence?

Perhaps this is the time that Maryland really needs to start a conversation about its justice system and the way that justice is handed out. I’m not talking about mandatory minimums or anything like that. I am talking about ending parole. For all criminals, not just sex offenders. It is very hard to say that a criminal has paid his due to society when society does not see the criminal locked up for their full sentence…


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