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Shellenberger: Keep violent offenders locked up

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and other city leaders hold a vigil to honor those whose lives have been lost to violent crime in Baltimore this year. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun video)

I read with great interest your editorial concerning the Comprehensive Crime Bill of 2018 (Senate Bill 122) (“Annapolis needs to take a time-out on Hogan-Zirkin crime bill,” March 6). What caught my attention was this sentence, “The advocates’ argument, and one that animated the Justice Reinvestment Act, is that the best investment when it comes to cutting violent crime in orienting our prison system more toward rehabilitation and improving re-entry services.”

Wrong.

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I served on two task forces, attended dozens of meetings and countless hearings on the Justice Reinvestment Act. I supported that act and still do, but at every one of those meetings it was explicitly stated that the Justice Reinvestment Act was not about violent crime. It was all about non-violent criminals and being smarter about how we deal with them.

The Comprehensive Crime Bill is the other half of the equation. Justice Reinvestment was all about how we help non-violent offenders integrate into society. The Comprehensive Crime Bill is all about appropriately punishing repeat violent criminals — particularly those who use guns. These are the criminals that need to be punished and kept off our streets for a long time. Does The Sun really have a problem with raising the maximum sentence on a defendant who has been convicted for a second time of using a handgun during a carjacking? That is what the Comprehensive Crime Bill is aimed at — violent repeat offenders.

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You opine that Annapolis needs to take a time-out on the crime bill. I can assure you the trigger pullers are not taking any time-outs.

Scott D. Shellenberger, Towson

The writer is State’s Attorney for Baltimore County.

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