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Lawmakers Look To Criminalize Violent Threats

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Outlawing the threats of mass violence. That’s the issue state lawmakers are taking up to keep Marylanders safe.

Christie Ileto explains if passed, anyone who makes those threats could face jail time.

No more slaps on the wrist! Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks is pushing lawmakers Wednesday to make it illegal when someone threatens acts of mass violence.

“This legislation, there’s a need for it now,” Alsobrooks said.

If passed, such threats would become a felony with the possibility of 10 years behind bars. Right now, Alsobrooks says Maryland is one of seven states where it’s not illegal to make threats of mass violence.

“It’s very similar to making a threat of arson or making a false report of a detonating device,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing this kind of conduct is growing.”

Maryland saw its own threat of massive violence last year. Last March, police say Maryland student Alexander Song threatened to go on a shooting rampage on the College Park campus. Then in July, Anne Arundel County Police say Neil Prescott threatened to blow up his former workplace.

“That’s real sickening and real crazy. People like that shouldn’t be on the street,” said one College Park student.

In both cases, Alsobrooks says Prescott and Song only faced misdemeanor charges.

But not every Marylander agrees with the stiff penalties.

“I have a deep concern in regards to making something like that a felony,” said James Simpson.

“A lot pf people say a lot of things out of anger and you can’t charge someone for being tied up in the moment,” said Brian Freels.

Advocates say criminalizing these threats saves Maryland lives. For Alsobrooks, that’s non-negotiable.

The bill will make its way to the Senate next.

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