Two bills currently being considered by Maine lawmakers would affect inmates and those sentenced to prison, by giving more rights for women prisoners – while lengthening sentences if a person commits a crime while incarcerated.
The first bill would impose a mandatory nonconcurrent sentence (a prison term that would run one after another rather than at the same time) for a crime convicted while a person was incarcerated. It would stop the clock on the sentence a person was in prison for (known as tolling) and force (with no discretion) that prisoner to serve additional prison time for the new crime before finishing their existing sentence.
If a person commits a crime while a prison sentence is ‘stayed’ (put on hold / delayed), the bill would give sentencing judges the discretion to make a sentence for the new crime nonconcurrent too. This is known as enabling legislation and would amend the Maine Criminal Code.
The proposed legislation also allows restitution funds held by the state for a victim who cannot be found to be forwarded to the Treasurer of State and handled as unclaimed property. At the moment, it is up to a judge to decide what to do with that money.
Reproductive healthcare for female inmates
Other proposed legislation would give additional medical care for female inmates (those awaiting trial and those given a prison sentence) as of right. They would be able to have access to reproductive health care and education throughout their detention, including services related to a pregnancy and birth, and reproductive health.
Check the progress of this bill here.
Over the next few days, this blog will feature some of the proposed legislation currently being considered in Augusta. A lot of publicity has been given to changes planned for the state’s new handsfree law (about the use of cellphones while driving) to correct some of its early problems (such as size of fines, that it should exclude CB operators, and extend the law’s reach to driving in private parking lots). However there are other possible new laws under consideration that are under-reported, but are still important. This includes proposed laws affecting Mainers with a criminal history (expungement and job applications), and a possible new right to work time off for alleged victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and stalking. These proposals will be examined further on this blog in the coming days.
Limiting expulsions for school children and a state-funded lawyer for some kids threatened with expulsion
To give an example of what has received little attention, two proposed new laws are being considered that would limit school expulsions and give the poor rights to be represented by a state-funded attorney if they are facing expulsion from school.
There are two bills (including this) that would give children at risk of expulsion by a school board an opportunity to be represented by an attorney (or other advocate) at state expense if they receive free school meals. At time of writing, the cost implications of that have not been assessed. The bill would also prevent suspension, recess suspension, or expulsions for children in Grade 5 or below.
Check on the progress of these bills here and here.
There is also a bill to