OSI-Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program seeks to reduce mass incarceration in Baltimore and Maryland through strategies that dismantle structural racism in criminal justice policies and promote restorative justice as the way to achieve lasting, and widely-shared, community safety.
The Community Oversight Task Force
In 2018, we continued our work to reform policing in Baltimore to bring about greater transparency, accountability and equity. With our support, the Community Oversight Task Force — mandated by the federal consent decree to review Baltimore’s civilian oversight processes — released a robust report with recommendations of how to greatly improve civilian oversight of the Baltimore Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that operate in the City. We, in partnership with Open Society Policy Center, a 501(c)(4) organization that is also a member of the Open Society Foundations network, also continued work to reform pretrial practices to reduce the number of people who remain incarcerated pending trial because they cannot afford to pay bail. In addition to protecting progress already made, Open Society Policy Center supported advocates who helped secure $1 million in new state funding to expand pretrial services to jurisdictions that do not currently have them.
This year was also the culmination of the five-year investment we made to support “the Ungers” — the more than 200 aging men and one woman who were released from Maryland’s prisons between 2012 and 2018, after serving more than 30 years. In partnership with the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, we were able to demonstrate that aging inmates, even those convicted of the most serious crimes, can be safely released into the community with the proper support. With these results in hand, we went one step further and commissioned a fiscal analysis that found that releasing the Ungers resulted in a projected savings of $185 million for Maryland taxpayers.
Still Learning: Youth and Philanthropy
After the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, young people in Baltimore took the lead in advocating for systemic change, and many local funders found themselves flat-footed, without the relationships or the structure to get resources to these dynamic leaders quickly. Tara Huffman, director of OSI’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program, launched a project to confront this problem—which exists around the country—head on. She collaborated with Open Society Foundations’ Youth Exchange program to conduct an analysis of funding to youth-led movements in Baltimore and held a series of focus groups with youth leaders and with foundation program officers to gauge the attitudes and barriers to increased funding.
The result was a report released in February, 2018, Young, Gifted, and Underfunded: Strengthening the Relationship Between Philanthropy and Youth-Led Movements. The report found that between 2012 and 2016, less than one percent of the grants awarded to Baltimore-area organizations were awarded to youth-led organizations. It identified feelings of mistrust and apprehension between youth advocates and program officers. The report led to a series of facilitated discussions among funders and youth leaders, and OSI-Baltimore, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Maryland Philanthropy Network (formerly the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers) are among those who have taken initial steps to address some of the report’s recommendations.
2018 Criminal and Juvenile Justice Grants
$25,000 over one year to increase civic participation among young people and other Baltimoreans affected by harmful justice policies
Advocates for Children and Youth, Inc.
$60,000 over nine months to engage in research, public education, technical assistance for agenda development, and community outreach to advance juvenile justice reform in Maryland
American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland Foundation
$90,000 over one year to support its policy analysis, education and advocacy efforts to increase police accountability, implement the consent decree and reduce arrests and pretrial detention in Baltimore and Maryland
Black Leaders Organizing for Change (BLOC)
$25,000 over six months to increase civic engagement and build political power among youth and communities in Baltimore most impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration
CASA de Maryland
$100,000 over one year to support the continued activities of the Campaign for Justice, Safety & Jobs to bring about policing reforms in Baltimore and Maryland
Civic Works, Inc.
$75,000 over one year to enable its Baltimore Center for Green Careers to create more meaningful career opportunities for individuals with criminal records and to advocate for non-stigmatizing hiring practices
Community Law in Action, Inc.
$105,000 over nine months to engage in organizing, education, and advocacy efforts to reduce the number of youth involved in the justice system, including youth who are automatically prosecuted and incarcerated as adults
D.R. Lynes Video and Television Productions, LLC
$10,000 over one year to support production of a film about the obstacles facing formerly incarcerated women in Baltimore in order to build support for needed policy reform
Jews United for Justice
$50,000 over one year to support its participation in coalitions to bring about positive reforms in policing and pretrial practices in Baltimore and Maryland
$78,500 over one year to conduct analysis and make policy recommendations to reduce pretrial and prison populations in Baltimore and Maryland
Job Opportunities Task Force
$100,000 over one year to support its communications and advocacy efforts to reduce barriers to employment for people with criminal records, and advocate for the elimination of cash bail and other criminal justice reforms in partnership with local and state partners
Johns Hopkins University
$7,500 over three months to support a two-day workshop to bring together academics with community activists and organizers to discuss areas of collaboration around the movement to reform police culture and policies
Justice Policy Institute
$150,000 over one year to engage in research, policy advocacy and communications efforts to support local and statewide criminal justice reform campaigns in Baltimore and Maryland
Maryland Justice Project
$25,000 over one year to conduct a public education and engagement campaign to ensure that people with criminal records are aware of Baltimore’s “Ban the Box” policy and are equipped with the tools to ensure that the policy is fully implemented and enforced
Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative
$50,000 over one year to reform parole policies affecting prisoners serving long-term sentences in Maryland
No Boundaries Coalition
$50,000 over one year to support public education, organizing and advocacy efforts to bring about policy and practice reforms that improve police accountability and establish effective community policing in Baltimore
Out for Justice
$65,000 over one year to engage in grassroots community organizing, capacity building, leadership development activities, and policy reform efforts to reduce the negative impacts of pretrial incarceration and the collateral consequences of contact with the criminal justice system
$100,000 over two years to strengthen its capacity to connect with, educate and empower women impacted by the criminal justice system to advocate for different responses that reduce over criminalization and over incarceration
Progressive Maryland Education Fund, Inc.
$50,000 over one year to support its organizing and communications activities to advance pretrial reform in Maryland
Public Justice Center
$100,000 over one year to support the continued efforts to explore, support and, where viable, pursue legal actions designed to eliminate or reduce the use of money bail and bring about pretrial reform in Baltimore