This past week, Governor Markell signed a bill modifying the requirements for mandatory minimums, thus freeing up judges to use their own discretion specifically regarding crimes of a non-violent nature. Previously, several drug felonies were lumped in as violent felonies. Those felons with multiple convictions could easily find themselves on the wrong side of a “three strikes” sentence and a judge would have no opportunity to rule for anything other than a life sentence. The passage of Senate Bill 163 eliminates these drug felonies from being deemed “violent felonies” and puts some freedom in the hands of judges to make exceptions when handing down sentences.

In a statement, Attorney General Matt Denn said that the aim of this legislation was to “address some irrational and disproportionate minimum mandatory jail sentences — such as one that provides the same minimum mandatory sentence for someone who burglarizes a house as for someone who commits murder.”

Finally, it should be noted that moving forward, those who were convicted and sentenced under old statutes have a right to petition for a modification of their sentence.