Senate passes Sen. Maxmin criminal justice reform bill

Posted: June 17, 2021 | Senator Maxmin

AUGUSTA — On Wednesday, the Senate approved a bill from Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, to help people guilty of low-level crimes contribute to their communities, rather than serve jail time. An amended version of LD 957, “An Act To Authorize Expanded Deferred Disposition Requirements,” received unanimous, bipartisan support in an initial vote.

“When people who commit low-level crimes are able to remain in their communities, learn from their mistakes, seek treatment if necessary, and give back or repair the damage they’ve done, we all benefit,” said Sen. Maxmin. “This bill will help give more people that opportunity. When the justice system is restorative and constructive instead of merely punitive, victims and offenders have the best chances of success.”

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.

LD 957 faces further votes in the Legislature.