Hoyer seeks ways to improve criminal justice reform in Maryland
Solutions include investing in mental health, early childhood development and education
The United States’ criminal justice system faces significant challenges — over the past 25 years, the prison and jail population reached an all-time high and the number of people on probation and parole doubled. Nearly 2 million of these individuals were incarcerated for their crimes, while the remaining five million were on probation or parole being supervised in the community, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) website.
ONDCP is focusing on key activities and policy issues that will not only advance an effective and efficient criminal justice system, but address the needs of the offender while ensuring the safety of the community. In an effort to seek solutions to improve Maryland’s criminal justice system, U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) met with law enforcement officials, advocates and community stakeholders Monday for a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform at Prince George’s Community College in Largo.
“I think all of us recognize that criminal justice is broken. It’s not effective, it’s too costly and in many instances, is just irrational and does not make sense,” said Alexander Williams, Jr., a retired judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. “One of the things that always bothered me was that we put more money on the reactionary aspect of criminal justice rather than at the front end to look at the root causes of crime.”
Williams said he is concerned about the death rates among black males, a demographic which accounts for over 5,000 homicides every year. However, law enforcement officials aren’t totally to blame, he said.
“I was hoping that, at some point, Congress would accept that as a national issue, a serious national issue and address it,” Williams said. “You just can’t have things like what happened in Baltimore City this year [with] 300 and something homicides. When you multiply that across the country