Many of the news reports about what will happen in the General Assembly this year include the need to deal with crime, for example, the January 9 Post reported:
On the eve of the General Assembly’s annual session, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley asked lawmakers to focus on issues including energy policy and crime . . . At a pre-session luncheon that drew more than 200 Democrats to an Annapolis hotel, O’Malley (D) argued that a state as wealthy as Maryland should not be among the nation’s most violent.
An AP report in the January 10 Washington Times and elsewhere said:
Lawmakers returned to the State House yesterday to kick off their annual 90-day session, preparing to take up legislation to reduce energy costs, improve public safety and halt rising mortgage foreclosures. . . . Mr. O”Malley told reporters yesterday that he wants to beef up the state”s ability to fight crime with DNA.
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But how likely is it that the general Assembly will do anything effective. Their recent record suggests that when it comes to actually legislating, they will pass “feel-good” laws that are useless in actually fighting crime.
Last month, the Post reported on growing gang problems in the area: “In Md. Suburbs, Police Find Shifting Gang Allegiances,” by Erneston Londono and Candace Rondeaux.
The Bloods and the Crips street gangs, notorious for ruthless violence since they emerged four decades ago in Los Angeles, have become increasingly influential in some of Washington’s Maryland suburbs as the gangs recruit in jails and prisons and as small neighborhood crews adopt their names and creeds, authorities say.
Today, the Post carries a report on the recent drive-by shooting of students from Charles Flowers High School: “Gang Feud Blamed in Drive-By Shooting,” by Candace Rondeaux and Nelson Hernandez.
A simmering rivalry between neighborhood gangs at one of the top high schools in Prince George’s County led to the drive-by shooting this week that wounded two female students, one critically, and an adult bystander, law enforcement sources said yesterday.
Cherrese Richardson, 18, a senior at Charles H. Flowers High School, has not regained consciousness since she was shot in the head several hundred yards from the school just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, the sources said. She remained in critical condition late yesterday, said her mother, Wilhelmina Frederick.
And also today, the Examiner has “Maryland Gang Act called ‘useless’” by Luke Broadwater.
The Maryland Gang Act of 2007 was supposed to allow prosecutors to crack down on the state’s growing problem of criminal street gangs. So it’s logical to assume that more than three months after the law took effect on Oct. 1, prosecutors would be using the act to press charges against gang members.
An Examiner survey of Maryland’s largest jurisdictions — including gang-plagued Baltimore City and Prince George’s County — produced zero cases in which prosecutors have filed charges using the new law.
“It’s useless,” said Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Baltimore City, where authorities have documented 2,600 gang members. “I don’t know if anybody else is using it, but we haven’t. It’s basically not helpful to prosecutors at all.”
And yesterday, even the Sun reported:
Last year, Jessamy and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler worked on anti-gang legislation that passed the General Assembly but in a form different from what they envisioned. Gansler’s office has called the final result “watered-down,” while Jessamy used harsher words, describing the Maryland Gang Prosecution Act of 2007 as “useless.”
So what can we expect as crime-fighting measures from the majority in the General Assembly this year? Their agenda seems to include repeal of the death penalty, failure to combat witness-intimidation, more efforts to support immigration law evaders, noose-prevention laws, etc. Looking out for the people who are being stabbed and gunned down on the streets and in their homes does not seem to be a priority.