Good Evening. My name is Evan Serpick, I live in Baltimore City, and I am a member of the Baltimore Leadership Council of Jews United for Justice and a co-chair of their Maryland Justice System Reform and Immigrant Rights Team. JUFJ organizes 6,000 Jewish Marylanders and allies to work for social, racial, and economic justice at the state and local level.
We just marked the beginning of Kislev, the Hebrew month of Hanukkah. During Hanukkah we remember how our ancestors fought against an unjust society that privileged the powerful few over the needs of the community. Together we have taken important steps to move Maryland forward, but too often we see reflections of the inequities that faced our ancestors.
One such inequity is the lack of Paid Family and Medical Leave, which means most people can’t afford to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one. The Time to Care Act is supported by more than 86% of Marylanders — this is the year to pass Paid Family and Medical Leave in Maryland.
Last year, you supported Access to Counsel for renters facing eviction, and now we need your support to fund the program. To ensure Rental Assistance actually keeps people housed, we and our partners at Renters United Maryland urge you to require landlords apply for emergency rental assistance before filing for eviction, and require judges to stay evictions when there is a pending application for rental assistance.
We appreciate that you voted for the Driver Privacy Act and Dignity Not Detention, and now we need your vote to override Governor Hogan’s vetoes. We are joining CASA in supporting Universal Representation for Maryland immigrants who are detained. No one should be ripped away from their families because they lack legal counsel.
Police violence and abuse continues to ravage Black and brown communities, and we thank you for the role the delegation played in passing historic reforms last year. As part of implementing those reforms, the role of Baltimore City’s Civilian Review Board needs to be clarified. Together with our partners in the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, we are supporting Counselors Not Cops legislation to prioritize school-based mental health services and restorative justice over armed police officers in schools.
Maryland has the highest rate of incarcerated Black residents in the nation, and we appreciate the steps you have taken to address this inequity by taking the Governor out of the parole review process and creating a Women’s Prelease Facility. We need your support to override the Governor’s veto of parole reform, provide funding for the prerelease facility, and pass the Juvenile Interrogation Protection Act to ensure kids are not questioned by police without a lawyer.
Our ancestors fought against injustice, and we are called to follow their example. Let’s continue building a Maryland that works for us all.