By: Jared Lerner
Out of the darkness comes some light, as Maryland Governor Larry Hogan provided a small beacon of hope for crime victims with his new Justice for Victims Initiative. There is still plenty of work to be done for victims’ rights, but at least one person is taking a step in the right direction. On Thursday, January 12, 2017, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced his Justice for Victims Initiative. Governor Hogan stated, “Making Maryland safer begins with making sure we have a criminal justice system that holds offenders accountable for the harm they cause, while also supporting victims and the community in the process of healing.” The Republican governor is no stranger to victims’ rights, as they continue to be a part of his focus while in office. In the 2016 legislative session, Governor Hogan worked with the Maryland legislature to enact criminal justice reform by way of the Justice Reinvestment Act (“JRA”). The JRA reformed Maryland’s restitution system; making sure victims are compensated for financial loss from crimes.
The Justice for Victims Initiative includes four proposals: (1) Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act of 2017; (2) Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act of 2017; (3) Transitional Housing Assistance Program; and (4) Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act of 2017. The Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act, a bipartisan measure, “will allow courts to admit evidence of a defendant’s prior history of sexual assault convictions during prosecutions for subsequent sexual offenses.” The Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act will expand the definition of sexual abuse to include sex trafficking, including sexual abuse committed by a parent or an individual acting in a supervisory capacity. The Transitional Housing Assistance Program will direct up to $5 million in funding to provide up to one year of housing assistance for crime victims. The Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act will make drunk driving a felony for repeat offenders with three or more prior conviction. It would also make drunk driving a felony for a repeat offender who causes death or life-threatening injury.
Governor Hogan calls the Justice for Victims Initiative “common sense legislation that will help protect the most vulnerable among us, improve services for the victims of crimes, and help us reduce and prevent the number of future victims of crime.”
Jared Lerner is a third-year law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law. He will graduate in May 2017 with a concentration in litigation and advocacy. He is currently working on a research paper that applies tort principles to company data breaches. Throughout law school, Jared gained practical experience in several practice areas, including trusts and estates, alternative dispute resolution, trial and appellate litigation, and administrative law. Most recently, he served as an honors law clerk at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Prior to law school, he attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a B.A. in May 2014. Jared can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Press Release, Office of Governor Larry Hogan, Governor Larry Hogan Announces 2017 Justice for Victims Initiative (Jan. 12, 2017) [hereinafter Hogan Measures], available at http://governor.maryland.gov/2017/01/12/governor-larry-hogan-announces-2017-justice-for-victims-initiative/.
 Hogan Measures, supra note 1.