Maryland Legislators Propose Urgent Bill to Prevent Early Release Credits for Violent Offenders in the Wake of Tragic Tech CEO Murder

BALTIMORE, Maryland — Maryland lawmakers are pushing for new legislation to prevent individuals convicted of first-degree sexual offenses from earning early release credits. The move comes in response to the tragic death of Pava LaPere, a 26-year-old tech executive who was raped and murdered by a violent ex-offender last September.

The proposed legislation, known as the Pava Marie LaPere Act, aims to address the concerns raised by LaPere’s father, Frank LaPere, who believes that the justice system needs to change. The bill would require the Maryland Parole Commission to approve an offender’s early release, granting them discretion to consider the severity of the crime and the safety of the public.

LaPere’s killer, Jason Dean Billingsley, was a repeat offender who had been released early due to earned diminution credits. Despite being denied parole twice, Billingsley served only nine years of a reduced 30-year sentence for charges including first-degree assault. The proposed legislation seeks to prevent violent offenders like Billingsley from being released early solely based on credit calculations.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates emphasized the urgency and importance of the legislation, stating that public safety should be the top priority. Bates cited the tragic events surrounding LaPere’s death as an undeniable reminder of the need for immediate action.

Del. Elizabeth Embry, a sponsor of the bill and formerly of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, explained that the legislation aims to give the parole commission the authority to approve the early release of offenders convicted of heinous acts. This is in contrast to the current system, which relies on credit calculations without considering the complete history of violence and hearing from victims or their families.

First-degree rape and sex offenses are considered crimes of violence, where force is used to perpetrate a sexual act. Bates stressed the need to focus on Pava LaPere and her tragic story while acknowledging the broader issue of sexual assault, which he believes is underreported and under-prosecuted.

Although the exact number of sex offenders affected by the proposed law is unknown, Embry estimated that approximately 10 to 15 people in Maryland are convicted each year of the highest levels of sex offenses. The legislation aims to ensure that individuals who commit such horrific acts cannot be released solely based on credit calculations but require approval from the parole commission.

Frank LaPere, Pava’s father, expressed his support for the proposed legislation during a press conference. He emphasized that no other victim should suffer at the hands of repeat and violent offenders like Billingsley, highlighting the failure of the system and the need for change.

The lawmakers and Frank LaPere agreed that the remarkable circumstances surrounding Pava’s death have spurred a necessary conversation about public safety and the flaws in the justice system. The bill is currently making its way through the legislative process, with Jason Billingsley, Pava’s killer, held without bail and awaiting his next court appearance on March 4.