Drugs Remain Biggest Reason for Going to Prison in Maryland

Drugs Remain Biggest Reason for Going to Prison in Maryland

By Paul Gaita 08/24/15

A recent study revealed some unsurprising results of our never-ending war on drugs.

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A recent study on Maryland’s prison population has determined that drug possession with the intent to distribute is the top reason why individuals are sentenced to state facilities in the Old Line State.

The study—a joint effort from the Crime and Justice Institute and the Pew Charitable Trust—examined data culled between 2005 and 2014 on prison population demographics, including lengths of sentences. The research will assist the bipartisan group Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council (JRCC) in developing policy recommendations for Maryland’s corrections system.

The study revealed that while rates for both violent and non-violent crimes, as well as prison admissions, have declined over the past decade, possession of narcotics with intent to distribute continued to be the main charge for incoming inmates. The study did not make clear which drugs were involved in these cases.

The study also noted that non-violent drug offenders in the Maryland system typically serve 40% of their sentence, even though they are eligible for parole after serving 25% of their sentence. The JRCC will review the data before making recommendations on sentencing issues and other matters to the governor and the Maryland General Assembly.

“We have to look at what is driving the system,” said Christopher B. Shank, chairman of the council and head of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. “That’s the question that we will look at at future meetings.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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