Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR) is a bipartisan, statewide alliance seeking legislative changes in Maryland’s correctional policies to support alternatives to incarceration, address inequities, and aid citizens returning from prison to lead productive lives, thus, strengthening families and communities.
- To advocate for legislative reforms of Maryland’s criminal justice system that emphasize rehabilitation and restorative justice over mass incarceration and punishment.
- To create opportunities for those committed to criminal justice reform to meet, share resources, and engage with each other around common purposes.
- To raise awareness and understanding, among citizens of Maryland, of mass incarceration and promote positive alternatives.
Former Governor of Maryland
We all know the numbers. Approximately a quarter of a million incarcerated in federal prison, almost 1.5 million folks incarcerated in state prisons. We live in a nation that imprisons a high percentage of its population than any other nation in the world. More...
I remember sitting in the Maryland state legislature between 1987 and 1995 and debating what predicate offenses we would add to our juvenile justice statutes in order to wave more violent teenagers into adult court. Because in the era it was all about being ‘tough on crime’ And here we are, a few years later, with this mess.
Drug offenses particularly touch every category, every line we draw in our society. Race, ethnicity, sex, religion, you name it. You can go to the suburbs today and talk about this without fear of being called soft on crime.
An important tool in solving this problem is reentry. I have talked to thousands of offenders, mostly male, in some of the worst environments you can imagine. I’ve had thousands of these discussions and it kept coming back—every discussion kept coming back to two denominators. And some folks in this room may not want to hear about the second one. But the first one was fatherlessness. And the second was, I started with marijuana. Almost every time. And that’s just an observation from my experience.
In Maryland, we planned an effective program for reentry to reduce repeat-offenses called Restart: skilled training, affordable housing, parenting skills, drug treatment. Behind bars, cognitive redevelopment behind bars.
Today, this is an easier issue than it ever has been. We need to take advantage of it. We’re talking about justice—true justice, fairness. This is why governors and legislators get paid. It’s the right thing to do and, ultimately, the right thing to do will pay political benefits.
See Governor Erlich’s comments on Common-sense justice reform in Maryland. [January 2016]
Stuart O. Simms
Secretary, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, 1997-2003
Secretary, Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, 1995-1997
State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, 1990-1995
Assistant United States Attorney, 1978-1982
Effective crime policy requires the government and the community to use a balanced approach to offender management that still holds offenders accountable but makes effective use of government resource capacity. That balanced approach requires dedicated government and community engagement that seeks to enhance and improve all those injured—victims, offenders and the community as a whole.
MAJR Executive Committee
Click here to view our 2017 flyer introducing MAJR and its initiatives.