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Watch this week’s Justice for Breakfast: Pandemic, pretrial detention, and police reform: Advocating for criminal “justice” reform

Justice for Breakfast discussion on October 28, 2020

On October 28, Yanet Amanuel, Public Policy Advocate, ACLU of Maryland, Christopher Dews, Policy Advocate, Job Opportunities Task Force, and Debra Gardner, Legal Director, Public Justice Center led a virtual Justice for Breakfast discussion on advocating for criminal “justice” reform. Watch the recording.

Long before COVID-19, the Public Justice Center’s Prisoners’ Rights Project sought to end unjust and inhumane pretrial detention. When the pandemic hit, the PJC and co-counsel filed an emergency motion in the long-standing Duvall v. Hogan class action seeking to require the state to reduce the population of pretrial detainees in the Baltimore City jail and to require social distancing, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, treatment facilities, and other safety measures inside the jail. While the federal court declined to order releases, it did order many significant protections. We continue to fight for a constitutional health care system more broadly as well. Over the last four years, the state’s efforts to comply with the court’s order to clean up that health care system have been shockingly weak.

We also continue to work in coalition with other advocates to reduce pretrial detention in all forms throughout Maryland, hewing to the presumption of innocence and heeding the science that pretrial detention is one of the many ways the criminal “justice” system disproportionately targets and disadvantages Black and brown people trying to defend themselves from over-policing and police abuses in their communities.

This year we are participating once again in a revived and expanded coalition of advocates and grassroots community organizations on efforts spurred by the alarming events of 2020 to achieve strong police and criminal “justice” reform. Our platform calls for repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, clear definitions of excessive force and penalties for its use, Public Information Act reform concerning police disciplinary records, elimination of police from schools, and local control of the Baltimore City Police Department. Join us for a conversation with the PJC’s Prisoners’ Rights Project and allies for the latest on these advocacy efforts.