Put judges and officers for yourself in all your cities that your God is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteousness. You shall not subvert justice; you shall not show favoritism…justice, justice shall you pursue…

– Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Law enforcement should serve and protect everyone, but Black and brown Marylanders are facing systemic violence and over-policing every day. Jewish tradition teaches us that destroying one life is akin to destroying the entire world. Police violence has destroyed so many worlds in our state, and Maryland laws prevent the public from even finding out about officers’ mistreatment of people. We must be able to hold police accountable to the people and communities they hurt.

The People: People hurt by police, particularly Black and Brown individuals, immigrants, LGBTQI+ people, and those experiencing mental health crises.

The Legislation: Under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) disciplinary records of police may not be released, which prevents effective accountability and discipline for police officers.

  • Remove legal barriers that prevent public access to records of police misconduct.
  • Ensure public participation in holding police officers accountable for abuse and brutality.
  • Bill sponsors: Delegate Luke Clippinger (Baltimore City) and Senator Jill Carter (Baltimore City)

Key Partners: ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, CASA, Campaign for Justice Safety and Jobs (Baltimore), Silver Spring Justice Coalition (Montgomery County)Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle

Maryland State

“A person [who] sits at home and says … ‘ Why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!’ … helps destroy the world.” 

– Midrash Tanhuma, Mishpatim 2

Black and brown Marylanders are facing systemic violence and over-policing every day and our legislators must take immediate and meaningful action to change this. Jewish tradition teaches us that destroying one life is akin to destroying an entire world. Yet Black and brown Marylanders face deadly over-policing and systemic harm every day. JUFJ has been working with coalition partners since 2015 to achieve greater police accountability and end police violence. But piecemeal reform has not been enough. In the wake of the nationwide protests following the murders of Breonna Taylor z”l and George Floyd z”l, we can wait no longer. JUFJ’s ethic of mutual care calls us to boldly rethink policing and transform public safety in our region.

Who’s Impacted:

  • People harmed by the police, especially Black and brown Marylanders, and also immigrants, members of the LGBTQIA community, and those experiencing mental health crises.

Key Committees:

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

Legislative Details:

  • This summer, JUFJ and over 85 other organizations joined the ACLU’s call for comprehensive police reform in 2021. The Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability demanded that the Maryland legislature undertake five necessary legislative initiatives that are essential for making significant headway toward our overarching goals: robust police accountability; a reversal of the long-standing racial harms of police violence and mass arrest; and a sharp reduction in the scope of policing to clear the way for alternative, community controlled forms of public safety.

The Five Demands: 

  1. Repeal LEOBR- the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (HB151/SB627).
  2. Control of the Baltimore City Police Department must be restored to Baltimore City residents (HB1027/SB786).
  3. Investigations into police misconduct must be transparent (HB120/SB178).
  4. Limit the use of force by law enforcement (HB139/SB626).
  5. Remove law enforcement from our children’s schools (HB496).

The full detailed statement on these demands that JUFJ is signed onto can be read here.

It is imperative that we have substantial police accountability in Maryland – it is long overdue. We need our legislators to commit to supporting these changes in order to root out racist, violent, and corrupt police practices. To see how these bills fared in the 2021 session, click here.

Key Partners: ACLU-MarylandNAACP Legal Defense Fund, CASA, Campaign for Justice Safety and Jobs (Baltimore), Silver Spring Justice Coalition (Montgomery County), Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle

Additional Legislative Positions:

In addition to JUFJ’s key legislative priorities, we took positions on other legislation related to policing:

  • We SUPPORTED the Repeal and Prohibition of Private Higher Education Police Departments (HB336/SB276)
  • We SUPPORTED the Police Free Schools Act (HB1089)

We also took a position on a number of Fair Funding bills, because budgets are a moral document and we must invest in programs that will address longstanding inequities and the current COVID-19 crisis. 

  • We SUPPORTED restoring the millionaire estate tax (HB165)
  • We SUPPORTED combined reporting for corporations (HB172)
  • We SUPPORTED offsetting special treatment for capital gains (HB201)
  • We SUPPORTED taxing investment manager income equally through carried interest (HB215/SB288)
  • We SUPPORTED enacting the throwback rule (HB229)
  • We SUPPORTED eliminating the state level Opportunity Zone tax credits (HB262/SB113)
  • We SUPPORTED income tax reform (HB275)
  • We SUPPORTED closing the LLC loophole (HB357)

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