Interim Cecil County State’s Attorney Stephen Trostle asked the Cecil County Council to talk to state legislators to help the state’s justice system.
Trostle said the legislation passed by the state last year, the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) has made the job of dispensing justice in Maryland extremely difficult.
“We’re just running into brick walls everywhere we go,” Trostle said.
Trostle said the balance of justice has been tilted too far in one direction.
“It’s all in favor of the defendants,” he told the Council.
The JRA has tied the hands of the judges who are no longer able to set sentences using their own judgement. In fact, Trostle said that when sentences are handed out with convictions, it is known that the justice system will only make the convicted person serve 25 percent of the time in the sentence.
Trostle said that fact has made it more difficult to plea bargain with defendants to settle misdemeanors and non-violent felonies outside of the courtrooms.
Professionals in law enforcement and the justice system recognize that many crimes in the state are caused by the substance addiction epidemic and that the perpetrators need treatment. While the state legislators wants to see that treatment and are mandating it, Trostle said the mandates have come without funding.
Trostle said, “the lack of (drug treatment) beds and the lack of resources…I think it’s only going to cause a continued spike in crime.”