Dear Friends,

We are working hard to encourage the Governor to dedicate more resources to Prince George's County to improve vaccine administration. We have the highest COVID infection rate and a long history of inadequate access to primary care and public health points of entry, therefore warranting additional dedication of state resources.  I will keep you posted in the coming days as the vaccine roll-out progresses. 

I want to pivot away very briefly from our Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine challenges to update you on progress in the crucial area of police and justice reform policy. The tragic death of George Floyd last year spurred a long overdue policy discussion about equitable justice and policing and I am happy to report that collectively we have identify significant policy initiatives that aim to ensure fair and equitable justice for all Marylanders.

Prince George’s County coalesced a workgroup to study and make policy recommendation regarding police reform and that report can be found here.

The Maryland General Assembly Workgroup to Address Police Reform and Accountability worked from July through December of 2020 to study and make recommendations for the Legislature’s action. You can review the agendas of the Workgroup here and read the December 2020 final report with this link.

As a result of the Workgroups efforts, Speaker Adrienne Jones introduced the two leading pieces of police reform legislation (HB 670 and HB 671) this week. HB 670 will repeal the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights and establishes a statewide accountability framework for the disciplinary processes for all police departments in Maryland. Details of of HB 670 can be found here. HB 671 will reform the way that police officer personnel records are treated under the Maryland Public Information Act. Under the proposal, all police officer personnel records will no longer be treated as confidential and shielded from public view. You can review details of HB 671 here. Both bills will be presented before the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee on February 9, 2021. If you are interested in testifying for these or any bills this session, please see the Maryland General Assembly website and view tutorials about how to create an account and testify remotely during this upcoming Session. I welcome and encourage your participation!  

In the area of Juvenile Justice Reform, the Juvenile Justice Reform Council (JJRC) a state council which gathers a wide variety of juvenile justice experts to study juvenile justice issues also published its final yearly report in December. The final JJRC report with its recommendations can be viewed here.

Historically, I have endeavored to propose changes to our approach to juvenile law and have re-introduced bills this year regarding juvenile informal adjustment and changes to juvenile probation. These bills are still pending hearing dates, but I will keep you abreast when they proceed. The two bills I am sponsoring are HB 169-Juvenile Law–Informal Adjustment and HB 362-Juvenile Law–Probation.

As always reach out to me at any time with questions or concerns about this crucial area of reform or anything of concern to you. 

As always it remains my great privileges to represent you.

Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Delegate, Maryland House of Delegates, District 23A
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