Criminal Justice Reform
Maryland must transform our approach to public safety, corrections, and youth justice to a restorative justice paradigm that disrupts cycles of violence and incarceration; treats incarcerated individuals with dignity; invests in education and economic opportunities for incarcerated individuals during and after confinement; provides youth with community supports and helps formerly incarcerated individuals with successful re-entry.
Maryland must raise legal standards and accountability so officers can use force only when absolutely necessary. We should also repeal the state’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, which would pave the way for community involvement in disciplining police officers. As it now stands, only other officers can investigate police abuses, which far too often shields officers when misconduct occurs.
Maryland must also continue to reform the bail industry so that no one is sitting in jail because they cannot afford cash bail. Our state should make better use of pretrial release options that do not rely on financial conditions, close the gap on private home detention by providing funds for indigent defendants’ fees, and once and for all eliminate all financial conditions of pretrial release. We should also create the opportunity for judicial review for people given life sentences for crimes committed as children after they have served at least 20 years and transform our juvenile justice system from a prison centered system to a community-based, rehabilitative system.
We must also ensure that any cannabis legalization bill that passes the General Assembly repairs some of the damage that has been done to communities of color disproportionately affected by cannabis criminalization. This includes ensuring people currently serving jail time for possession charges are released and guaranteeing automatic expungement of criminal charges for possession of personal use amounts of marijuana from criminal records — while looking more broadly at expungement beyond simply cannabis possession.