1. Sentencing based on the offense, the offender's previous record, aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and the impact on the victim.
2. Sentencing guidelines which are:
- evaluated continually by a panel of judges, legislators and others interested in sentencing.
- expanded to include alternative sentencing.
3. Reporting judicial rationale for sentencing outside the guidelines.
4. Statewide plea bargaining guidelines.
5. Recognizing prison space as a limited resource reserved primarily for those who have committed serious or violent crimes, with the use of alternative sentencing for others.
Background: A “get tough on crime” attitude shifted, in the 1980s, into more stringent parole/release policies and to stricter sentencing measures, impacting an already overcrowded prison system. The League’s response was to adopt (at its 1983 State Convention) a “study of state administration of justice in Maryland focusing on the judicial process as it affects the state correctional system.”
The study focused on sentencing, plea-bargaining, and the Sentencing Guidelines adopted statewide by the Judicial Conference in 1983. The study committee interviewed Circuit Court judges, state’s attorneys, the Attorney General, and persons responsible for the Sentencing Guidelines project. In 1985 consensus was reached on all issues except mandatory sentencing.