ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland inmates could earn credits to reduce their sentences by receiving academic degrees or certificates under a measure approved by the House of Delegates on Thursday.

The House voted 81-54 for the bill despite arguments from opponents who said it would give undeserving criminals the opportunity to get out of jail early.

Inmates can already earn the credits for good behavior, work tasks and special projects, but must complete at least half of their sentence before they can become eligible for early release.

Three Republicans broke with the majority of their party and voted for the bill.

Republican Delegate Mike McDermott, a commander in the Criminal Investigation Division of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, said the opportunity to earn credits serves as incentive for inmates who may otherwise not be motivated to complete a degree.

“They’re always going to be someone who has that mark on them for the rest of their life, but this is an opportunity for us to do something about it,” McDermott, R-Worcester, said. “I am not in the business of being on the street trying to warehouse people for the rest of their life.”

The bill, which will now be considered by the state Senate, allows inmates to earn 60 days of credits for completing a high school diploma or equivalency degree, a two- or four-year college degree, a certification in applied sciences, a technical education diploma or a civics education program that requires passing a final exam.

Earlier this week, the House adopted an amendment from Delegate Patrick McDonough, R-Baltimore County, to prohibit inmates convicted of murder from benefiting from the program.

He and other opponents argued that even with the amendment, rapists and other violent offenders would be able to qualify for undeserved reduced sentences.

Maryland law prohibits people convicted of first- or second-degree rape or a sexual offense against someone under 16 and those serving a repeat sentence for a third-degree sexual offense against someone under 16 from earning any kind of sentencing credit.

Opponents of the bill said that policy does not provide adequate retribution for criminals who rape older victims.

“You want to vote for a bill that’s going to give time out early credits for someone who was convicted of a first- or second-degree rape of an 18-year-old victim?” House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell, R-Calvert, asked House members. “Think about that. You want to live with that?”

Delegate Ariana Kelly, D-Montgomery, told her colleagues that she was raped at age 16, but supported the education credits regardless.

“I truly resent the experiences of women like me being used a political tactic in this debate,” Kelly said.

McDonough, who suggested Kelly’s viewpoint would not align with the majority of rape victims, said he will take his fight against the measure to state senators.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (9)
  1. peter o neil says:

    Fuc em, when they do a crime , they do the time. They no longer have rights. Rights are for citizens who obey the laws.

    1. MC says:

      Agreed…they have the opportunity to get an education early in life…not after they break the law and the weepy liberals think they can fix them.

  2. cms827 says:

    I am paying for that education and degree and I don’t have the same rights, I would like a degree on a free ride

  3. cms827 says:

    I am tired of paying for this s**t too….I want a degree but unfortunately after putting 2 klds through college I am broke, no free ride for them. Maybe I should go to jail, could get a degree, no BG&E bills, no car insurance, 3 meals a day sounds like a win win.

  4. Sharon says:

    It is a shame. You do the crime, get time and now you can get a degree for free.
    I don’t agree with that at all. I would like to get a degree but I don’t want to go to prison to get one. That’s just WRONG !

  5. awsinnottingham says:

    The thieves called legislators are making things better for felons in case our crooked legislators get caught and end up in prison. Annapolis has been ‘CYAing’ for years.And Marylanders continue to reelect the crooks and liars time and again.

  6. wherescommonsense says:

    Shameful! Give that education to kids who cant afford to go to school.criminals shouldnot be rewarded to their illegal actions

  7. Bill says:

    Why not use the education funds for the less fortunate? I beleive it is called prevention. The maryland recidivism rate should count for something. As for the politician from the Eastern shore. You do not need a degree to catch chickens! This is not about warehousing criminals ,it is about protecting the citizens ! I believe you took an oath if you can remember. They know right from wrong and choose wrong. I wonder if the new gasoline tax is going to pay the HIGH Salaries for the professors?

  8. Billiam says:

    For the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would have want to do anything to reduce the sentences of convicted criminals, who committed some type of crime and are now in jail for what they did. It’s bad enough you are giving the person the opportunity to get a GED, diploma or even worse, a two or four year college degree; now you’re going to give them a reduced sentence as an incentive to complete some type of education program? And it’s paying paid by me, the taxpayer? Tell me how it’s fair – I dare you to tell me. These people are in jail because they violated the law and were found guilty of their crime. Can you make it any easier for them to get out? Wait – don’t answer that.

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