The ACLU of Maryland is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. In the legislature, we advocate for a broad range of rights including access to justice, legal justice reform, education equity, election fairness, and voting rights, freedom of expression, government transparency, police accountability, prisoners’ rights, immigrants’ rights, equal protection, privacy, racial justice, due process, religious liberty, and LGBTQ and reproductive rights. The items below represent the issues we expect to dedicate significant time and resources to during the 2021 legislative session.
Get a downloadable list of ACLU of Maryland's 2021 legislative priorities here.
Watch livestream Maryland General Assembly committee and floor videos here.
WE NEED IMPACTFUL POLICE REFORM IN MARYLAND
Reimagining policing is necessary to save Black lives. During the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session, a diverse coalition of over 90 groups is demanding at least five impactful police reforms: 1) repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR); 2) build community trust by reforming the Maryland Public Information Act to allow transparent investigations into police misconduct; 3) limit law enforcement’s use of force; 4) remove police officers from our children’s schools and increase the number of trained social workers, psychologists, counselors, and behavioral specialists; and 5) restore control of the Baltimore City Police Department to Baltimore City residents.
Get more information about the 5 impactful police reforms and downloadable fact sheets for each one here.
Get a downloadable fact sheet on two school safety and policing bills in MDGA21 here.
WE NEED TO TAKE THE POLITICS OUT OF PAROLE
Maryland’s parole system is one of only three in the country where the Governor has to approve the recommendations of the Parole Commission before a person may be paroled. This injects politics into the system, and has resulted in a severe lack of paroles during the last three decades. We need to pass a law to ensure people with sentences of life with the possibility for parole who have thoroughly demonstrated their rehabilitation have a real chance to earn parole. The decision should be in the hands of the Parole Commission, like it is in the vast majority of states.
Get a downloadable fact sheet about taking politics out of parole here.
Get a downloadable fact sheet about the parole process in Maryland here.
WE NEED AN EQUITABLE BLUEPRINT FOR MARYLAND’S FUTURE
We must ensure that the General Assembly overrides Governor Hogan’s veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future bill, which will provide much-needed funding for Maryland’s students, especially Black and Brown students who for generations have disproportionately learned in schools that lack adequate resources. Our goal is to be intentional about filling the gaps for the most underserved students and ensuring transformative implementation.
WE NEED DUE PROCESS FOR CHILDREN IN THE LEGAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Every day in Maryland, children entangled in the legal justice system are questioned by police without a parent or attorney present. As a result, children face criminal charges, prosecution, and incarceration without the basic due process rights that adults are entitled to. We are working with children’s and justice reform advocates to protect the rights of children, so they are not further harmed and over-exposed to the system by being interrogated without the advice of counsel.
Get a downloadable fact sheet about child interrogation here.
WE NEED A TRUST ACT TO PROTECT IMMIGRANTS IN MARYLAND
Marylanders across our state live in fear of being unlawfully detained, separated from their families, and deported, because of draconian immigration laws and practices. These risks often prevent even lawful residents and crime victims from feeling safe to work with local police. The Trust Act would prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with ICE and assisting with federal immigration enforcement. This law would help protect Maryland residents from lifelong negative consequences and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Get a downloadable fact sheet about the Trust Act here.
WE NEED TO EXPAND THE VOTE
Voting is the hallmark of our democracy. If a Marylander is eligible to vote, whether incarcerated or not, that right must be honored. In 2021, we will work with our partners to ensure that Marylanders who are incarcerated — disproportionately Black and Brown Marylanders — who are eligible to vote, have meaningful access to the ballot. This includes voter registration applications, absentee ballot applications, and information about how to vote.
Get a downloadable fact sheet on expanding the vote here.