Public Safety

As a teacher and principal, John has lost students to gun violence. He’s sat in living rooms with grieving parents, and seen the lasting pain that gun violence inflicts. He knows that public safety is foundational to exercising all of our other rights, and is committed to making all of our communities safer, and more thriving places for everyone. 

Unfortunately, Maryland has a very real public safety crisis right now – and the next governor must take a holistic approach to solving it.

 The answer is not just more policing, as most of the other candidates in this race have proposed. Yes, policing is necessary for public safety, but it is not alone sufficient. What we need is an approach that reimagines our entire approach to public safety. 

 As governor, John will:

  • Immediately improve the state’s oversight of parole, probation, and home detention and ensure adequate staffing.
  • Take a Policing PLUS approach to public safety, and make sure that the police have the ability to focus on preventing violent crime, cracking down on illegal firearms, and improving the homicide clearance rate. We need Policing PLUS substantial investment in:
    • Mental health and addiction treatment services.
    • Violence interruption programs.
    • Re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated Marylanders.
    • Recreation centers in underserved communities.
    • Summer job programs for teenagers.
    • Apprenticeship programs that unlock economic opportunity.
  • Expand the use of crisis response units where mental health professionals respond to calls related to mental health crises alongside police officers.
  • Invest in and partner with Safe Streets and other proven, community-based violence prevention programs. 
  • Create effective behavioral intervention programs for people with a history of gun offenses to prevent re-offending, as currently such programs are few and far between in Baltimore.
  • Enforce Maryland’s new ban on ghost guns, and pass stronger Child Access Prevention and Safe Storage laws. 
  • Fix police handling of evidence, which can create a significant roadblock to successfully finding and prosecuting violent crime.
  • Enforce the statewide policies on collection, testing and retention of medical forensic evidence in sexual assault cases, as Maryland still has a large backlog of untested evidence kits.
  • Implement a focused deterrence program around gun violence by prioritizing individuals who are high risk instead of relying on biased “stop-and-search”.


Criminal Justice Reform 

John’s life is proof that second chances matter.  He also knows that far too many Marylanders, particularly Black Marylanders, don’t get that chance.

Maryland’s prison population has the worst racial disparities in the country by a wide margin — over 70% of incarcerated Marylanders are Black despite only 31% of the state’s population being Black. John will fight to correct this injustice.

As a policymaker and civil rights advocate, John has been a national leader on the intersection of criminal justice reform and education.  As U.S. Secretary of Education for President Obama, John led the Second Chance Pell initiative, which restores access to Pell grants for students who are incarcerated.

As Governor, John will:

  • Break the cycle of mass incarceration, and ensure that there are economic & educational supports in place for incarcerated & formerly-incarcerated people.
    • Increase investments in community-centric restorative justice programs that break cycles of incarceration through education, job training, and addiction recovery; treat people who are incarcerated with dignity (including providing education, job training, mental health services, addiction treatment, and family/community mediation services); and make sure there are systems in place that properly support them — particularly in finding jobs and housing — when they return home.
    • Legalize recreational cannabis across the state and expunge the records of all nonviolent offenders incarcerated for cannabis-related charges.
    • Build on policing reforms that increase trust and accountability between police and the communities they serve, including ending qualified immunity and accelerating the implementation of body cameras. 
  • Reform our sentencing system by ending the automatic charging of minors in adult courts and changing our approach to youth justice to be trauma-informed and rehabilitative.
  • Create a new conviction and sentencing integrity review unit within the Governor’s office. The purpose of this unit will be to investigate cases of those who have been wrongfully convicted or sentenced. This unit will not be limited in the cases it can take on and will include a wide range of advocates, experts, formerly incarcerated individuals and legal professionals.