Gov. Mills signs into law Sen. Maxmin criminal justice reform bill

Posted: June 29, 2021 | Senator Maxmin

AUGUSTA — On Wednesday, June 23, Gov. Janet Mills signed into law a bill from Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro. An amended version of LD 957, “An Act To Authorize Expanded Deferred Disposition Requirements,” helps people guilty of low-level crimes contribute to their communities, rather than serve jail time.

“By allowing low-level offenders to make amends and seek treatment, rather than serve jail time, we give them more tools to avoid reoffending,” said Sen. Maxmin. “This is an approach that helps victims, offenders and whole communities. I’m grateful to everyone who worked on this bill, and to Gov. Mills for signing it into law.”

Deferred disposition requires a person to enter a guilty plea to a low-level crime up front while delaying sentencing, typically for a period of one year. During the deferment period, the court can impose requirements on the person to help them live a law-abiding life. At the end of the deferment period, charges may be dropped or reduced, or the person may be sentenced to serve time.

LD 957 will make more programming available to people in deferred disposition by allowing sheriffs to administer more court-mandated programming. Deferred disposition arrangements often require participation in community service, but finding volunteer opportunities can be difficult for those with a criminal record. LD 957 will make more community service opportunities available to participants so they can fulfill their requirements. LD 957 also will make treatment options such as substance use counseling available to more participants, giving them better chances for long-term success.

An earlier version of the bill and bill title referred to alternative sentencing programs; the amended version allows people to participate in the type of programming typically found in alternative sentencing programs without actually being sentenced and adding to their criminal record.

The law will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.