Posted On: February 25, 2010

Prosecutors Bid to Increase Penalties for PCP Drug Possession

Washington D.C. prosecutors are weighing support for the city’s bid to increase PCP drug possession charges to felony charges under the pretext that violent psychosis caused by the drug warrants the increase of punishment. Based on a recent article, defense lawyers argue that possession of the drug without intent to sell should not garner long-term prison sentences.
Phencyclidine, a chemical substance commonly known as PCP, has been blamed for causing numerous violent rampages in Washington D.C. According to the District’s Pretrial Service Agency, nine percent of adults arrested in the District last year tested positive for the drug. The drug is known to cause paranoid thoughts, feelings of abnormal power, invulnerability and strength as well as panic and a sense of impending death.

Should the bid succeed, liquid PCP drug possession offenders will be punished with up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine on top of having a felony charge on their records. Defense attorneys rally that harsher penalties will result in more incarcerations, something many local governments are against.

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Posted On: February 23, 2010

Maryland Train Track Incident Kills 2 Workers

A recent examiner.com article reported that two veteran workers on the Washington area’s transit system were killed in Rockville, MD on January 26, 2010 after being crushed by a maintenance truck. Apparently, the automatic train technicians, ages 49 and 68, were installing new train control safety equipment in the track bed when a high rail truck struck them. The track was supposed to have been closed for the evening. However, the special vehicle that hit the two men is capable of operating on the track even when electricity is off, thus explaining its presence during the maintenance work.

With this latest fatal Metro incident, the public is reminded of how deadly a work environment Metro has been for U.S. transit rail workers over the past five years. A National Transportation Safety Board investigator said that the rail truck in this incident was in reverse, which is not uncommon. The Chairman of the Metro board of directors stated that this tragic accident was the direct result of human error.

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Posted On: February 19, 2010

Maryland Prisons May Have to Notify Federal Authorities of Possible Immigrants

Maryland lawmakers are addressing a bill that, if approved, will require prisons in Maryland to inform federal authorities of an inmate’s questionable status in terms of being in the country illegally. According to a recent Baltimore Sun article, the bill could potentially save the state of Maryland millions of dollars. Reportedly, the bill may make it easier to detect and deport illegal immigrants instead of spending money on their incarceration, parole, and probation. However, the bill does not specify how prison officials will obtain information regarding immigration status. This uncertainty may impose discrimination upon inmates and increase tension within prisons.

Senator James E. DeGrange Sr. stated that the bill is a response to a law that went into effect in October 2009, making it mandatory for prison officials to issue identification cards to all inmates when released. Based on the article, many lawmakers are worried that illegal immigrants who are released from prison with these cards may use them to get various forms of identification. Lawmakers voted to restrict driver’s licenses from being given to people without documentation showing that they are in the U.S. legally. Before this, Maryland was one of only four states without any laws prohibiting such action.

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Posted On: February 10, 2010

Maryland's Increase in Monitoring Violent and Sex Offenders

In examining possible reasons for why crime has showed a decrease in Maryland, a baltimoresun.com article reflects how the Division of Parole and Probation has paid more attention to known violent and sexual offenders. In this regard, “paying more attention” refers to assigning all sex offenders to specially trained agents, placing those offenders under required and strict probationary terms, and then monitoring them via GPS. In fact, every sex offender is placed on GPS monitoring for 90 days, during which time he or she is subject to harsh curfews and restricted movements.

Violent offenders are placed in the Violence Prevention Initiative and, along with sex offenders, are closely marked for violations. Based on the article, as of January 2010 and since the Parole and Probation has been implementing GPS monitoring of sex offenders beginning in February 2009, 231 sex offenders and 1,300 total offenders have been placed on GPS monitoring.

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