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Policy and Legislative Affairs

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

2022 Legislative Priorities 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Guns

This legislation will close the loophole for the manufacturing and use of Ghost Guns in violent crimes in Maryland. This legislation is aimed to make clear that ghost guns should be considered firearms for the purposes of the public safety article and for the purposes of the use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.

  

The Prince George’s County Police Department noted a steady increase in the proliferation of Ghost Guns in the County over the last two years.  Specifically, in 2020, Prince George’s County Police recovered 166 Ghost Guns, and made 163 arrest in connection therewith. Because the receivers are not serialized, these guns, as currently configured, cannot be tracked.  This facilitates these guns falling into possession of persons who are prohibited and cannot legally possess a handgun. 

 

Passage of this bill would create a legal requirement that persons selling an unfinished receiver in Maryland have the same serialization as if they were selling a finished receiver and creates a legal requirement that anyone buying an unfinished receiver must have a handgun qualifying license. The passage of this bill will greatly assist law enforcement in preventing prohibited persons from purchasing and possessing handguns.  The State’s Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County strongly supports this critical piece of legislation and vigorously recommends its passage into law.

 

Position of Authority 

This legislation is designed to close the loophole for individuals who exercise power and supervision of our children and use that position to engage in sexual acts with our children prior to them reaching adulthood. The current law allows for the State to charge a school employee of the victim’s school if that individual engages in sexual contact or acts with the victim but it does not allow for individuals not associated with a school but still in a position of authority such as a traveling sports coach, a music teacher or a youth group leader to be held responsible for exploiting their positions.

 

2021 Legislative Successes 
It was been an extraordinary year with the COVID-19 Pandemic and the local and national call for social and criminal justice reform, through it all, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney's office is working to bring reform and continued justice to our constituents.  We look forward to working with you and all our community partners to help develop and implement policy changes that work to create a more just system and to provide a safe community to our citizens


 

Criminal Justice Reform
 

Juvenile Lifers

House Bill 409 is a narrowly crafted bill aimed at juveniles, convicted of serious crimes in adult court, who have served 20 years or more in prison and have shown significant maturation and capacity to change in ways that make them no longer a danger to the public, may have their sentence reconsidered by the court.  This bill will allow a court to take a new look at an old sentence in light of what we know today about past events, as well as the subsequent actions of the juvenile offender.  

 

A few key points: No one will be released from prison solely because of this bill; Victims are guaranteed a voice in proceedings. There must be demonstrated growth and change on the part of the juvenile offender sufficient to convince the court that the person is not a danger to the community and that reconsideration is in the interests of justice; Even if the court determines a change is warranted, the court does not have to release the juvenile offender. It can impose whatever new sentence it deems appropriate.

This bill reflects our growing understanding of juvenile brain development and the sad reality that the norms of behavior, judgment, and impulse control we would like to see in our youth are often late in developing. As a result, far too many of our young people get involved in criminal activity, sometimes with deadly and serious consequences.

Emerging Adult Program 

This legislation will fund the Emerging Adult Youth Program in Prince George’s County.  This program is focused on individuals aged 18-26 years old who are currently incarcerated.  Working with the Key Ever Forward organization this program establishes key re-entry programs for our young adults to include counseling, job training, and work programs.  The program begins while the young adult is incarcerated and continues through probation in order to reduce recidivism and promote successful re-entry into the community.  This program currently costs about $10,000 per person.

Police Reform 

Body Cameras 

House Bill 187 will require all police departments to deploy body-worn cameras by January 1, 2025.  Body-worn cameras will increase transparency and accountability between law enforcement and the citizens that they are sworn to protect. Body cameras will lead to a faster resolution of citizen complaints, serve as a training tool, and help restore confidence in our police departments. State Attorney’s offices will need resources to successfully utilize and store the demonstrative evidence. This increase footage will require a massive increase in storage fees. State’s Attorney Offices will require resources to store footage needed for trial.

Internal Affair Records 

The State’s Attorney’s Office has also proposed a process for the identification, review, and production of relevant information contained in Internal Affairs records maintained by the Department’s IA Division. The general proposal provides a transparent and fair process in which the State’s Attorney’s Office and the County Attorney’s Office ensure that relevant and material information is turned over to defense counsel while ensuring the integrity of personnel files.

Criminal Law 

Continuing Court of Abuse 

House Bill 277 is designed to protect our most vulnerable victims, our children. Too often our children are the victims of repeated child abuse, and although these children are often given a medical diagnosis of torture, each individual episode of abuse does not create life-threatening injuries or loss or impairment of an organ, and therefore the perpetrator cannot be charged with the aggravated felony of First Degree Child Abuse.  This bill states that anyone who commits three or more acts of child abuse may be charged with First Degree Child Abuse as a continuing course of abuse.

Ghost Guns

This legislation will close the loophole for the manufacturing and use of Ghost Guns in violent crimes in Maryland.  This legislation is aimed to make clear that ghost guns should be considered firearms for the purposes of the public safety article and for the purposes of the use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.  

Civil Remedies for the non-consensual posting of videos on pornographic websites 

This legislation mirrors pending federal legislation and will ensure that victims of non-consensual pornography have civil remedies for platforms that do not properly vet out videos for publication. It aims to put an end to the publishing of child pornography as well as videos of sexual assault or posted for the purposes of embarrassing another party.

2020 Legislative Successes 
After tireless efforts, hard work and dedication, three priority bills backed by the Office of the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County became law in in May 2020 and went into effect on October 1 2020.  These laws strengthen Maryland’s hate crime statute, make strangulation a first degree felony and require more appropriate training for special police officers in Maryland. These laws provide important prosecutorial tools and public policy designed to make our community safer.

Hate Crimes

2nd Lieutenant Richards Collins, III's Law

Senate Bill 606/House Bill 917 strengthens Maryland's hate crime statute, clarifying that hate does not have to be the sole motivation for a hate crime.  This legislation was a major focus for the Office of the State's Attorney as a result of State vs. Sean Urbanski. In this case, Urbanski, a White former University of Maryland student, was found guilty of the first degree murder of an African American Bowie State University senior. 2nd Lieutenant Richard Collins, III, just days before graduation. Originally, Urbanski's charges included a hate crime, which would have added up to an additional 20 years to his sentence.  However, during the trial, the judge dismissed the hate crime charge on the basis that hate was not the sole motivation for the murder, even though there was significant evidence of racism prior to the crime.    

Strangulation

Suffocation or Strangulation

Senate Bill 212/House Bill 233 changed strangulation from a second degree assault, carrying up to a $2500 fine to a first degree felony assault and up to a $5,000 fine.

Public Safety

Special Police Officers - Training and Renewal of Commission

House Bill 1111 increases the amount of training hours, including de-escalation techniques, for special police officers in Maryland.

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