Jul 10, 2021 • 24M

Criminal sentencing controversy

 
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Veteran award-winning journalist John Rydell hosts Free State Politics, a thought-provoking weekly Podcast presented by MarylandReporter.com that features exclusive interviews with Maryland’s movers and shakers who provide insight on the news of the day.
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Free State Politics episode #5 examines a controversial rule change being considered by Maryland’s Judiciary which could result in the release of thousands of inmates earlier than expected. The proposed change would impact inmates who have served at least 15 years or 60 percent of their sentence or be at least age 60 and have served at least 15 years of their sentence.

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, who strongly opposes the rule change, says it would allow two men who spent many years on death row the chance to be released. Shellenberger says it would also inflict unnecessary pain on the families of crime victims, who were assured that offenders would spend most of their lives behind bars.

But Brian Saccenti, director of the Decarceration Initiative with the Office of Maryland’s Public Defender, says the rule change is just. Saccenti says “it will give a judge the opportunity to look at how that individual has changed, what they have done since they were first sentenced. Very often people, who are incarcerated for a considerable period of time, really do turn their lives around.”

Free State Politics episode #5 also provides an update on the region’s crab shortage this summer. John Rydell speaks to Dr. Allison Colden, a Maryland fisheries scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Colden says “The decline in the number of small juvenile blue crabs is what’s really driving this year’s numbers and what’s really got us concerned about what’s to come for the blue crab fishery and the blue crab population in the Chesapeake Bay.”

Also in this podcast, John Rydell takes a look back at failed attempts to lift the ban on cameras in Maryland courts and a new decision by a federal appeals court which may give supporters of cameras in courts another opportunity to make their case.