Click here to see more pictures from the Justice Forum
Community members packed the Real News Network conference space on Saturday to discuss and debate potential recommendations for Baltimore’s next mayor and City Council to address criminal and juvenile justice reform as part of a series of events leading up to OSI’s Solutions Summit on December 10.
The Solutions Summit is an effort by OSI and many partners to galvanize the energy and many ideas to address Baltimore’s toughest problems that have come up in the last two years into solutions that communities will ask the new mayor and City Council to address. In the run up to the December 10 Summit (go here for more information and free registration), OSI is hosting three forums to formulate potential solutions in key areas of Behavioral Health, Justice, and Jobs. The Behavioral Health Forum took place October 1 and on Saturday, more than 100 people came to the Justice forum. The Jobs forum is this Saturday, Oct. 29 (information and registration).
At the Justice Forum, Tara Huffman, director of OSI-Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice program and co-chair of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning Group, and Elizabeth Alex, regional director of CASA, presented potential solutions on Policing and Community Strengthening; Zina Makar, a Clinical Teaching Fellow at the University of Baltimore School of Law and an OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow, presented solutions on Pretrial Reform; Michael Pinard, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Clinical Law Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and Caryn York, Senior Policy Advocate at Job Opportunities Task Force, presented on Reentry and Collateral Consequences; and Karen Webber, director of OSI-Baltimore’s Education and Youth Development program, presented solutions related to Juvenile Justice.
Interspersed with these presentations were incredible performances by local spoken word artists, including Black Chakra, MeccaMorphosis, and Deniero Black.
After the presentations and small group discussions, attendees voted on which 10 solutions (out of 27 presented) they thought were most important for the new mayor and City Council to pursue. These 10 priorities, listed below in shortened form (for full versions, refer to the white paper by the number listed in parentheses after each recommendation), will be presented at the December 10 Solutions Summit where they will be debated and discussed along with priorities forwarded from the other two forums and narrowed down into a 15-point blueprint for Baltimore’s leadership.
Increase the transparency of the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD). (1)
Mandate ongoing training from independent experts and community based organization(s) for all BPD cadets and in-service officers on best practices. (2)
Work with the Baltimore City state delegation to introduce and pass a public local law to transfer the BPD from nominal state control to full Baltimore City control. (4)
Create a Baltimore City executive commission to review pretrial agencies and practices (including pretrial services, state practices, and court practices), and have the commission release an advisory opinion. (15)
Reentry and Collateral Consequences
Encourage and incentivize public and private employers to hire returning citizens and other individuals with criminal records. (17)
Provide tools, workforce training, and supports for returning citizens and other individuals with criminal records seeking employment. (18)
Remove legal and systemic barriers to employment for returning citizens and other individuals with criminal records. (19)
Youth Justice Reform
Advocate for school discipline reform by improving conduct of school police, amending the Baltimore City student handbook, and reallocating funds from punitive school discipline practices to restorative justice practices and peer mediation. (21)
Baltimore City schools should offer an environment that is comfortable, nurturing, safe, and conducive to learning by improving school climate and processes. (22)
Allocate resources to support Baltimore City school students through increased wrap-around services for students and their families, and increased access to social workers to address family challenges (including housing, medical and behavioral health, and legal assistance needs). (23)