sentencing.jpg

Conviction and Sentencing Integrity

Office of the State's Attorney for Prince George's County

The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office was the first in the state to create a Conviction and Sentencing Integrity Unit. The unit looks at cases where new evidence calls into question the validity of prior convictions, as well as cases where the sentence imposed appears to be excessive. 

 

The Unit has focused particularly on individuals who were convicted of serious crimes while a juvenile, was convicted and sentenced to life or a lengthy term of imprisonment, and who has now served a significant period of time in jail. We look at each case individually, including the nature of the crime, the individual’s role in it, any mitigating factors that might have influenced the person’s behavior at the time, and their record while incarcerated. If the individual shows significant evidence of remorse and rehabilitation through service, employment, education, mentoring, or other activities while incarcerated, we consider initiating action to facilitate an earlier release. 

 

These actions reflect the new understanding of the courts and society about how brains and character development in juveniles, including what is frequently a poorly developed sense of risk, consequence, and moral engagement. Based on the new evidence, the US Supreme Court and the Maryland Courts have concluded that unless a convicted “juvenile” has demonstrated that they are hopelessly incorrigible, there should be a way to review their sentences to determine if they can be released safely and can become productive members of the community.

 

There are a number of significant legal obstacles to securing release for these individuals, but our Office has been pursuing a variety of ways to effect a change in a sentence. These include participation in Reentry Court, supervised release to other programs specializing in reentry, and changes to sentences that accelerate parole consideration, as well as sentence review by the original judge or their successor. Victims in all cases are notified and consulted.

 

While challenging, these actions have resulted in the release of a number of individuals who are now on their way to reintegration into the community.

Juvenile Lifers

 

As mentioned above, the CSIU has focused a lot of attention recently on individuals who were convicted of serious crimes while a juvenile. If the individual shows significant evidence of rehabilitation through service, employment, education, mentoring or other activities while incarcerated, we consider initiating action to facilitate their release.

These actions reflect the new understanding of the courts and society about brain and character development in juveniles. In response to this, the US Supreme Court and the Maryland Courts have concluded that unless a “juvenile lifer” has demonstrated that they are hopelessly incorrigible, there should be a way to review their sentences to determine if they can be released safely and can become productive members of the community.

DoyleNiemann_5x7_IMG_0109.JPG

Doyle Neimann

Chief