More than one year ago, the Maryland General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Services took a close look at the state agency’s Division of Parole and Probation and found a variety of shortcomings. In a two-month period in early 2020, investigators found that 37% of victims and suspects in city murders and non-fatal shootings were under DPP supervision at the time. What else did they have in common? The study found these individuals were far less likely to be in compliance with the terms of their parole or probation or mandatory release, missing required meetings or work or school commitments, for example. Yet, in a majority of cases from these two months, DPP officers failed to follow up with the individuals in violation. As a result, not meeting the requirements of parole had no serious consequences for them. The opportunity to intervene, perhaps prevent gun violence, had been lost.
Two JRA outcomes of particular note to this report which impacted DPP supervision practices were the requirement for a validated screening process and the development of a graduated sanctions matrix:
2. Graduated Sanctions for Violations of Parole and Probation DPSCS must establish a program to implement the use of “graduated sanctions” in response to “technical violations” of conditions of supervision and adopt policies and procedures to implement the program and ensure that specified due process protections and supervisory guidelines are in place. DPP must provide notice to the court and the Maryland Parole Commission (MPC) regarding a technical violation and any graduated sanctions imposed as a result. The court and MPC may impose specified maximum sentences for a revocation due to a “technical violation” but may depart from the limits if adhering to the limits would create a risk to public safety or to a victim or witness. The court may also depart from the specified limits if the court commits the probationer or defendant to Maryland Department of Health (MDH) under § 8-507 of the Health-General Article for substance abuse treatment as an alternative to incarceration