The Maryland General Assembly is interesting three pieces of "emergency legislation" in response to the disturbing crime statistics in Baltimore.
Unfortunately, instead of addressing the root causes of the violence, and providing funding and resources for violence interruption (like SafeStreets Baltimore or Baltimore Ceasefire) or fixing the broken school funding situation or providing more opportunities for our young people, this legislation seeks to put more people behind bars for longer.
The bills are:
SB 197 / HB100, a mandatory minimum bill (basically the bill that was watered down in Baltimore City last year),
SB 198 / HB 101, a bill that proposes a mandatory trying of juveniles as adults, based on "gang-related" charges--taking the power of the adult charges out of the hands of the courts and placing it into the hands of a police officer, and
SB 199, / HB 102, a bill that, like mandatory minimums, restricts the judicial systems latitude in deciding when time has been served.
These bills are a return to the tough-on-crime policies of the 1990s that created the mass incarceration crisis in which we now find ourselves.
I encourage you to call your lawmakers and let them know that this is not the kind of intervention that Baltimore needs. Urge them to vote "no" on these bills.
Here are step-by-step instructions you can use to make your call (including a script):
Determine who your representative is and if they sit on one of the Judiciary Committees. There are hearings before the Judiciary committees in the Senate on January 30 and in the House on February 6, so if your lawmaker is on the Judiciary Committee, your call is even more urgent!
Determine which bills you should refer to
If calling a senator refer to Senate Bills 197, 198, and 199
If calling a delegate refer to House Bills 100, 101, and 102
Identify yourself as a constituent and offer your street address
Identify which legislation you are calling about and if you would like a “yes” or “no” vote
Offer a brief explanation for your request.
Thank the staffer for taking your message and ask for a response from the representative. They may want to call, write, or email.
Hi, my name is [Your Name] and I am a constituent of [Lawmaker name]. I live at [Your Address].
I am calling today because I want to encourage [Lawmaker name] to vote “no” on HB 100, 101, and 102.
I believe that these bills will be detrimental to Baltimore and [Your District]. They encourage mass incarceration and do nothing to target the root of the violence problem we are having in our city.
Thank you for recording my message for [Delegate Name]. May I have a response from them regarding this legislation?