The following is a statement endorsed by Jews United for Justice, Justice Policy Institute, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney's Association, Maryland Office of the Public Defender, Open Society Policy Center, Out for Justice Inc., and ACLU of Maryland:
“Today, Governor Larry Hogan lambasted the General Assembly for not passing the Governor’s package of regressive “tough-on-crime” legislation, even personally attacking Chairman Will Smith and questioning his fitness to preside over the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
“We believe in safety and justice for all Maryland communities and we stand with Chairman Smith in rejecting the Governor’s crime package because, historically, tough on crime laws have not made our communities safe. Year after year, Governor Hogan fails to learn or chooses to ignore the fact that harsh criminal penalties — while they certainly earn the Governor vast media coverage — do not deter crime or prevent recidivism. They are backward, failed policies that have undermined public safety and community stability for decades.
“Harsh criminal penalties have disproportionately impacted people of color, particulary Black and Latinx people. Long prison sentences have wasted taxpayer dollars, and perhaps most importantly, long prison sentences can’t possibly make a difference when there is no one to punish. For example, the Baltimore City Police Department has among the worst “closure” rates in the nation, meaning cases remain open because police fail to identify and arrest suspects.
“Unlike Governor Hogan, Chairman Smith understands that safety is inextricably intertwined with equity and economic opportunity. Investing in and expanding opportunities for Maryland’s communities is a smarter way to address public safety.
“Instead of issuing headline-grabbing press statements, we invite the Governor to engage in a thoughtful dialogue with the communities most impacted by violence. We invite the Governor to adequately and equitably fund our schools. We invite the Governor to create fair and affordable housing opportunities. We invite the Governor to support employment opportunities for Marylanders returning from incarceration. We invite the Governor to invest in successful, community-based crime-intervention programs, like Safe Streets in Baltimore City, which really work. And once and for all, we invite the Governor to advocate for constitutional and respectful police practices to stop the over-incarceration that has weakened many communities in our state and made public safety problems worse.
“We applaud Chairman Smith, Chairman Luke Clippinger, and the vast majority of the General Assembly for continuing to stand strong against Governor Hogan’s political ploys. Our State needs more legislative leaders who choose not to go the easy route of promoting political non-solutions and who instead work hard to craft real solutions to real problems."