COURT AND PRISION REFORM

Maryland State

Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be patient in the administration of justice, raise many disciples and make a fence round the Torah. – Pirkei Avot 1:1

Shammai used to say: make your study of the Torah a fixed practice; speak little, but do much; and receive all people with a pleasant countenance. – Pirkei Avot 1:15

JUFJ is guided by the Jewish value of Tzelem Elohim, that all people are created in the divine image, with inherent and equal dignity and value. All people should be treated with dignity and respect. Black people, people experiencing homelessness, those in poverty, and young people face marginalization and are often at risk of entering the justice system. We support decriminalization; prevention of unjust incarceration, and decarceration, helping people return to their families and communities from a place of incarceration.

Who’s Impacted:

  • Communities fighting marginalization, returning citizens, their families, their communities, and everyone who faces undue social and financial hardship as a result of their contact with the Maryland justice system. Our racist and classist justice system disproportionately targets Black and brown people and those unable to access health care, housing, and other commodities.

Key Committees:

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

Legislative Details:

  • Overturn Veto for Women’s Prerelease Facilities:
  • Prerelease programs help people nearing the end of their prison sentences secure employment, housing, drug treatment and mental health services, and family support.
  • Legislation sponsored by Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield (Montgomery County) and Senator Mary Washington (Baltimore City) in 2020 was passed by the General Assembly, but vetoed by Governor Hogan. We will work to override that veto to enact the Gender-Responsive Prerelease Act (SB684).
  • Decriminalize Poverty:
  • Delegate Wells (Baltimore City) will again be introducing a bill to provide automatic expungements for non-convictions, ensuring that people seeking jobs cannot be unfairly stigmatized for interactions with the justice system (HB238).
  • Decriminalize Youth:
  • Last year Del. Delegate Lierman (Baltimore City) introduced the Juvenile Interrogation Protection Act (HB315/SB136), the session was cut short before it was voted out of committee. We will again support this legislation, sponsored by Del. Sandy Bartlett this year, to ensure that youth have representation before they can be questioned by police.
  • Decarceration:
  • Remove the Governor from the parole process. We will push to move this legislation sponsored by Del. Clippinger forward this year (HB003/SB202). 

Key Partners: ACLU-Maryland, Out for Justice, The People’s Commission to Decriminalize Maryland

Maryland State

Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be patient in the administration of justice, raise many disciples and make a fence round the Torah. – Pirkei Avot 1:1

Shammai used to say: make your study of the Torah a fixed practice; speak little, but do much; and receive all people with a pleasant countenance. – Pirkei Avot 1:15

JUFJ is guided by the Jewish value of Tzelem Elohim, that all people are created in the divine image, with inherent and equal dignity and value. All people should be treated with dignity and respect. Black people, people experiencing homelessness, those in poverty, and young people face marginalization and are often at risk of entering the justice system. We support decriminalization; prevention of unjust incarceration, and decarceration, helping people return to their families and communities from a place of incarceration.

Who’s Impacted: Communities fighting marginalization, returning citizens, their families, their communities, and everyone who faces undue social and financial hardship as a result of their contact with the Maryland justice system. Our racist and classist justice system disproportionately targets Black and brown people and those unable to access health care, housing, and other commodities.

Key Committees:

  • Senate Judicial Proceedings (JPR), Chair: Will Smith (Montgomery County)
  • Senate Education, Health, & Environmental Affairs (EHE), Chair: Paul Pinsky (Prince George’s County)
  • House Judiciary (JUD), Chair: Luke Clippinger (Baltimore City)
  • House Ways and Means (W&M), Chair: Anne Kaiser (Montgomery County)

Legislative Details:

  • Overturn Veto for Women’s Prerelease Facilities:
    • Prerelease programs help people nearing the end of their prison sentences secure employment, housing, drug treatment and mental health services, and family support.
    • Legislation sponsored by Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield (Montgomery County) and Senator Mary Washington (Baltimore City) in 2020 was passed by the General Assembly, but vetoed by Governor Hogan. We will work to override that veto to make the Gender-Responsive Prerelease Act (SB684) into law.
  • Decriminalize Poverty
    • Eliminate laws that incarcerate, fine, or otherwise punish individuals by limiting opportunities based on their economic status.
    • Automatic expungement for non-convictions and repeal the “Unit Rule”
  • Decriminalize Youth
    • Exclude common adolescent behaviors from Maryland juvenile justice system, expand and standardize diversion of youth away from the juvenile justice system, and prohibit the use of short- or long-term incarceration for common adolescent behaviors that pose no risk to public safety.
      • Eliminate “status offenses,” “violations,” and “Child in Need of Supervision” from the “Juvenile Causes” section of the Maryland Code
      • Narrow the definition of “delinquent act” in Maryland to focus on public safety, not minor misbehavior
      • Greatly expand and standardize access to community-based diversion option
      • Prohibit incarceration of youth for engaging in common adolescent behavior, minor misbehavior, and other reasons that do not pose a legitimate risk to public safety
  • Decarceration
    • Create systems that allow people to exit the justice system and return to their families and communities
      • Remove the Governor from the parole process (Senate President Bill Ferguson and JPR Chair Will Smith are on record for getting this done in 2021)
      • Provide a second look at the judicial level (sentence modification) after an individual has served 15 years, with a focus on juveniles and those over the age of 55
      • Change the criteria for medical and geriatric parole so more people are eligible. Right now, the criteria are so narrow, about two dozen people have met the threshold.

Related Events

  • Maryland Statewide Team Meeting

    January 27 | 7:30 pm9:30 pm

    Join JUFJers from across Maryland for a call at 8:00 PM to discuss our ongoing issue campaign work. If you’re new to JUFJ work or want to schmooze and catch up with fellow members, join at 7:30 PM.

  • Maryland Statewide Team Meeting

    February 10 | 7:30 pm9:30 pm

    Join JUFJers from across Maryland for a call at 8:00 PM to discuss our ongoing issue campaign work. If you’re new to JUFJ work or want to schmooze and catch up with fellow members, join at 7:30 PM.

Campaign Organizers