Support Bill HB 67

Maryland Residents: We Need Your Help

On March 18, the House of Delegates passed HB67! The bill now goes to the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR). JPR will be holding a hearing on HB67 during the week of March 28. HB67 mandates the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) to provide transitional services to people in solitary confinement six months prior to their release to the community. Passage of this bill is a priority for IAHR this session.

Please contact members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee (listed below), President of the Senate Bill Ferguson,  and Majority Leader, Nancy Kingno later than Monday, March 28.  Please call members of JPR and your Senator and leave this message:

My name is ________ and I am a Maryland resident. I urge you to vote for passing HB67. I believe that Maryland has a moral responsibility to provide transitional services to people being released from prison to the community six months prior their release, especially people in solitary confinement.  

Here is the list of Judicial Proceedings Committee and their contact info. Please contact as many Committee members as possible. Thank you! 

Republicans in red, Democrats in blue

William C. Smith, Jr., Chair     (410) 841-3634, (301) 858-3634

Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher, Vice-Chair  (410) 841-3137, (301) 858-3137

John D. (Jack) Bailey         (410) 841-3673, (301) 858-3673

Jill P. Carter                      (410) 841-3697, (301) 858-3697

Robert G. Cassilly              (410) 841-3158, (301) 858-3158

Shelly L. Hettleman           (410) 841-3131, (301) 858-3131

Michael J. Hough               (410) 841-3704, (301) 858-3704

Susan C. Lee                     (410) 841-3124, (301) 858-3124

Charles E. Sydnor III          (410) 841-3612, (301) 858-3612

Ron Watson                        410-841-3631 | 301-858-3631

Christopher R. West            (410) 841-3648, (301) 858-3648

Bill Ferguson, President of the Senate 410-841-3600 | 301-858-3600

Nancy King, Majority Leader              410-841-3686 | 301-858-3686

 

If you have not done so, please sign this letter to Senate Judicial Proceedings Chair Will Smith and Vice-Chair Jeff Waldstreicher.

Dear Senators Smith and Waldstreicher:

Direct release from restrictive housing is a public safety concern and will again come before the General Assembly this year. Because of the effect of the pandemic on our prisons, reforming this practice has become even more imperative than ever before.  I am asking you to support HB 67 which will end direct release from restrictive housing.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DCSPS) released approximately 250 to 300 people each year directly to the community from restrictive housing without any form of step-down transition to prepare them to return to the community. Often, these individuals have no clear plans about where to live, where they will find employment, or how to access services they need, such as health care or assistance in obtaining forms of personal identification.  Without any kind of preparation, resocialization, transition coordination or reentry services, incarcerated people in restrictive housing are the least likely to return safely to our communities and are more likely to reoffend.  The practice of direct release from restrictive housing puts both communities and the individual inmate at risk.

In 2016, DPSCS was legislatively mandated to submit annual reports concerning the use of restrictive housing in state prison facilities to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention and the General Assembly on or before December 31st. The Department has failed to provide these reports for the past two years.

The pandemic has made this situation worse.  Since the onset of the pandemic, our entire incarcerated population has been placed in restrictive housing. The thousands of individuals who were released to mitigate the spread of COVID and its variants through the system, were released directly from this restrictive housing situation.

The DPSCS dashboard projects that 1558 individuals will be released in 2022. These individuals too are impacted by restrictive housing and its harm and damage– to the individual and our communities.

HB 67 will come before you and your committee this session to end direct release from restrictive housing. This legislation seeks to end this unsafe practice by establishing a Step-Down program for individuals in restrictive housing.  I am asking you to support HB 67.

Numerous studies have shown that a Step-Down process reduces the risk of recidivism. Legislation like HB 67 has been successfully implemented in sixteen states.  This legislation will not add to the cost of Maryland’s prison system.  During the past year, DPSCS has reduced its prison populations by ten percent, freeing up resources.  It has also added social work staff and has the resources to implement this modest and needed change. 

This current practice poses a threat to public safety and undermines the chances of incarcerated people to reenter the community successfully.

Please support HB 67 when it comes before you.


Video of March 9 Press Conference

On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, IAHR held a press conference to promote HB67. Speaking on behalf of the legislation were Rev. Dina van Klaveren, Rector of St Andrews Church in Glenwood, Maryland, Rev Dr Stephen Tucker, Senior Pastor of New Commandment Baptist Church in Columbia, MD and President of the National Capital Baptist Convention of DC and Vicinity, Kimberly Haven, IAHR's Legislative Liaison, and Rabbi Feinberg.

Click on the Image to View the Video

IAHR MD Legislative Press Conference March 2022.mp4

 

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