Changes to Corrections Reform Bill Appear to Reduce Savings - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Changes to Corrections Reform Bill Appear to Reduce Savings

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Proposed changes to a corrections system reform bill would sharply cut the savings the bill was supposed to bring about by trying to reduce recidivism, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Monday.
    
A recent analysis of the changes indicates there is now less than $40 million in projected savings over 10 years, compared to initial projections that estimated savings of about $240 million, said Miller, D-Calvert, who has been a leading advocate for the measure. He said saving money is a critical part of the bill.
    
"It's a great idea, and I think there's some great improvements in the bill, but again the whole premise is saving money to invest in stopping recidivism and stopping crime from taking place and rehabilitating people," Miller said. "And, if you don't have those savings, what are we doing?"
    
Sen. Robert Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, disputed the analysis that the changes eliminate $200 million in savings.
    
"I disagree vehemently with the fact that somehow took $200 million off of the savings," Zirkin said. "I'd like to see the data that comes with that before we just kind of say it as a fact ..."
    
He said that if the bill would have put the public at risk, "then I think we need to take a serious look at you know where we're getting those savings and are those savings worth it."
    
A significant portion of the projected lost savings came from a provision that would have automatically paroled someone with a 10-year sentence after they served 25 percent of it.
    
"Judicial Proceedings thought that that was a bridge that went too far and risked public safety in a number of ways, so we moderated that down to make sure that violent offenders and high risk offenders weren't simply being let out on the street without somebody taking a look at them," Zirkin said.
    
The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill later Monday.

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