Maryland State

The world was created with both justice and mercy.

— Rashi on Genesis 1:1

All of us deserve a life with dignity, respect, and safety. But here in Maryland, conservative millionaires and billionaires like David Smith think they can bully state legislators and the Governor into treating Black and brown kids as criminals so they can further their reactionary agenda of returning to failed “tough on crime” policies of mass incarceration and undermining trust in government.

Jewish tradition teaches that the Divine encompasses both justice and mercy, but Smith and his allies want to lock children up for the rest of their lives, leaving them no chance to grow. We have come together in the past to transform our state’s criminal legal system so that children are given a chance to learn and develop into upstanding citizens, rather than be discarded and punished. This year, we must come together again to protect those victories and to keep building a state where every child — no matter their race, what neighborhood they live in, or their family wealth — has the freedom to mature and flourish.

Our lead Maryland organizer on Youth Justice is Elianna.

Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) works in coalition and partnership with grassroots and advocacy groups to build and win issue campaigns. Our approach is based on our commitment to racial equity and dismantling systems of oppression, which includes centering the leadership of our most directly impacted partners and being as transparent as possible about our agenda selection process. When we select campaigns, we keep in mind our goals of organizing and mobilizing our base, strengthening coalitions we are part of, and shifting the balance of power in our local communities. This year we have four full scope of work campaigns and we will engage in other campaigns in a more limited way.

  • For more information about our other full scope of work campaigns, click here.
  • For more information about our limited campaigns, click here.
  • For more information about our agenda setting process for the Maryland 2024 state legislative session, click here.

2024 Legislative Details

Key Partners: 

Legislative Details:

Oppose: Juvenile Law – Reform (HB814/SB744)

  •  While HB814 was introduced amid promises of increased support and services to help kids make better choices, achieve better outcomes, and increase public safety, the details of the legislation focus almost exclusively on expanding the net of incarceration—which is known to put kids at heightened risk of personal, sexual, and emotional harm and, according to 20 years of research and experience, results in more recidivism and crime, not less. This legislation will roll back elements of the progress made with the JJRA, are out of step with what data shows are effective juvenile justice policies, and would lead to thousands more children being incarcerated each year.

Oppose: Juvenile Justice Restoration Act of 2024 (HB319/SB52)

  • In 2022, we and our partners helped pass the Child Interrogation Protection Act over the Governor’s veto. But prosecutors have been trying to make us fear children so they can overturn this critical protection for young people in our state. We can’t let that happen. We are therefore opposing The Juvenile Justice Restoration Act (HB319 / SB52), which would roll back CIPA entirely and roll back progress from the Juvenile Justice Restoration Act we worked to pass with partners.

Oppose: Juvenile Law – Custodial Interrogation – Parental Consultation (SB120)

  • No child should be interrogated without being able to consult a lawyer. But the Juvenile Law – Custodial Interrogation would authorize a child to consult with their parents, guardians, or custodians instead of an attorney before being interrogated by law enforcement. That is insufficient.

Key Committees:

  • Senate Judicial Proceedings (JPR), Chair: Will Smith (Montgomery County) 
  • House Judiciary (JUD), Chair: Luke Clippinger (Baltimore City)

Related Events

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Maryland Staff