Governor Larry Hogan Announces 2017 Justice for Victims Initiative

January 16, 2017

Thursday January 12, 2017 Governor Larry Hogan announced the 2017 Justice for Victims Initiative. The initiative introduced a series of proposals to help prevent future victims of crime and to stop repeat offenders. This legislation is initiated to deter sex offenders, prosecute human traffickers, support victims of crime, and toughen penalties for repeat DUI offenders.

“Making Maryland safer begins with making sure that we have a criminal justice system that holds offenders accountable for their actions and the harm they cause, while also supporting victims and the community in the process of healing”. Hogan continues to speak passionately about the legislation “The Justice for Victims Initiative we are announcing today is bipartisan, common sense legislation that will help protect the most vulnerable among us, improve services for the victims of crimes, and help us cut and prevent the number of future victims of crime.”

Hogan and his team have worked round-the-clock to present this legislation that will make sure the safety of residents in Maryland as well as instill fairness within our justice system. This piece of legislation will impact Maryland in a tremendous way as Hogan notes that his very own daughter and local St. Mary’s County Assistant States Attorney, Jaymi Sterling helped inform her father on the issues that arise within the justice system. Mrs. Sterling noted that on average, a drunk driver will drive 80 times under the influence before their first arrest and that most repeat offenders will only get a maximum sentence of 3 years after having been convicted multiple times. The new legislation will toughen the penalties and create safer roads maximizing the newly proposed felony DUI sentence to 10 years.

Thanks to our very own Jaymi Sterling for bringing this truth forward and our Governor for taking action. This piece of legislation will bring positive light to Maryland and serve as an example to states throughout our nation.

In Further Detail Governor Hogan’s Justice for Victims Initiative includes:

Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act of 2017: Governor Hogan announced this bipartisan measure, modeled after legislation put forward by Senator Brochin during the 2016 legislative session, which will allow courts to admit evidence of a defendant’s prior history of sexual assault convictions during prosecution for subsequent sexual offenses. Data shows that many sexual predators follow patterns of behavior, and this proposal will ensure that prosecutors have the tools needed to bring these criminals to justice.

Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act of 2017: This proposed legislation will further define sexual abuse to include sex trafficking, regardless of whether the sexual abuse was committed by a parent or any other person who has responsibility for supervision of a child. Current law requires local agencies to have evidence of an alleged offender’s relationship to a victim in order for law enforcement to investigate – this legislation will give authorities the ability to more effectively prosecute sex traffickers.

Transitional Housing Assistance Program: Governor Hogan announced that the administration is directing up to $5 million in new funding resources to provide up to one year of transitional housing assistance for victims of crime, many of whom face homelessness as a result of becoming isolated from support networks. This program will be coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, the Maryland Department of Human Resources, and the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development.

Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act of 2017: During the 2016 legislative session, Governor Hogan signed “Noah’s Law,” which requires ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of drunk driving in Maryland. The proposal announced today would make drunk driving a felony offense for those with three or more prior convictions, as well as for any offender convicted of causing a death or a life-threatening injury on a second or subsequent offense. Impaired driving crashes account for one-third of all traffic-related fatalities in the state, but the current maximum sentence is three years in prison, regardless of repeat offenses.