OPED in Washington Post: Maryland has started on prison reform. But what about the thousands in jails?

Washington Post JRI oped image - person holding on to bars in jail

 

By Toni Holness, public policy counsel, ACLU of Maryland

May 27 at 4:35 PM

This year, Maryland experienced the beginning of a historic shift from a failed tough-on-crime approach that has swelled our prisons - mostly with poor black and brown people - and emptied our coffers, toward a smarter, evidence-based and more humane approach to justice. That new approach promises to reduce the incarcerated population, reduce recidivism by giving people returning to their communities from jail or prison the support they need to avoid future entanglement with the criminal-justice system and reduce the unconscionable racial and socioeconomic biases that permeate and delegitimize our justice system.

Still, we have yet to address the more than one-third of the state's incarcerated population in jail, not prison. What's the difference? Generally, jails house folks who are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to serve fewer than 18 months. Everyone else is in state prison.

Read the full oped at the Washington Post