ACLU Testifies In Support Of Two Bills That Would Increase Public Safety and

Save Taxpayer Money



February 24, 2011

CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, (410) 889-8555;
Melissa Goemann, ACLU Legislative Director, 410-693-4877;

ANNAPOLIS - The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of two pieces of proposed legislation that would go great lengths toward addressing the serious problem of over-incarceration in Maryland. The legislation is among several reform bills the ACLU is supporting this session of the General Assembly, as part of an effort to overhaul Maryland's criminal justice system.

The first bill, Senate Bill 801, would provide alternatives to automatic incarceration for people

who violate parole so that those who commit violations are punished appropriately and those who deserve to remain on parole do so. The bill would prevent the state from spending taxpayer money to incarcerate people who commit minor rules violations like missing a parole meeting or being unable to pay court-imposed fees.

"Our current system - which allows for parole revocation for minor violations - is costly and unnecessary," said Melissa Goemann, Legislative Director for the ACLU of Maryland.. She testified that the bill "would ensure that we do not send people to prison who do not belong there and would allow our state's limited resources to be better spent elsewhere."

The second bill, Senate Bill 583, aims to improve the state's probation and parole program in an effort to reduce recidivism. The bill would require corrections officials to identify those people on probation or parole who are at the greatest risk of recidivism and provide them with additional resources, like individualized supervision and support.

"We can focus more of our time and energy on those individuals at a higher risk for recidivism," Goemann testified. "Lowering recidivism rates, particularly for technical violations such as missed meetings, will allow us to save money in our corrections system."

A copy of Goemann's testimony about both bills is available online at: