Politicians in Maryland seem to understand that supervised parole and probation is expensive. State Senator Christopher B. Shank has proposed a bill allowing for “earned compliance credits” for what are considered low-risk offenders.
Such a bill would allow reductions in supervision when individuals on parole or probation met certain criteria. Essentially such supervision would be shortened by good behavior. This could include performing community service or refraining from being arrested over a certain period of time.
The supervision of 64,000 individuals on parole or probation costs the state approximately $100 million. It is thought that the proposed legislation would slice that cost by around 10 percent.
Several proposals have been brought up in the past that have failed to get through the House or Senate. The state has been struggling for years with how to reduce costs while at the same time show a reduction in recidivism. The current bill came about in part because such compliance credits have been successfully tried in other states.
Though such a measure is welcome, it also creates a certain complexity for those on parole or probation. Whether one is considered a “low-risk” offender may still be relatively subjective unless evidence can be presented to show why such a label is warranted. Sorting out such complexities will be the job of attorneys representing such parolees who are experienced in the criminal law area.
Hopefully, legislatures are also beginning to understand that not all individuals accused of crimes should be treated in the same manner. In 2010, around 26,000 Maryland residents accused of crime were sent back to prison for “technical reasons.” There have to be options for such individuals to both better their situations and to prove that they are not deserving of prison time.
Source: herald-mail.com, “Reward system proposed for parole and probation supervision in Maryland,” by Andrew Schotz, March 1, 2012