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An audience of over 400 Bowie State University students, residents, local elected officials and concerned residents attended Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy’s (D) second annual State of Justice symposium in Bowie State’s Student Center on April 13.
The goal of the symposium, as Braveboy explained in a recent WIN-TV interview, was to keep county residents up to date on changes in the law and public safety measures in Prince George’s.
“Let justice be found, and justice be served,” rang the opening prayer before former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (D) tuned in via livestream.
“In the courthouse under her leadership, prosecutors have achieved over a 90% conviction rate. Meanwhile, she has offered second chances for those who have been incarcerated and partnered with the community through her Our Streets, Our Future events,” said Holder.
Braveboy thanked the various elected officials who were present, along with her deputy state’s attorneys and other staffers for their assistance in her accomplishments thus far. She also noted one of her predecessors, Federal Judge Alex Williams, for his role in paving the way for her. Williams was the first African American to serve as Prince George’s state’s attorney.
The state’s attorney also touted current work.
“I would put my homicide unit up against any in the country, and we have one of the highest homicide closure rates in the country. We are one of only 10 to receive a grant from the Department of Justice to do genetic testing to investigate unsolved crimes,” she said.
During the symposium, Braveboy announced a new Firearms Unit, with a goal of removing illegal firearms from the community, and a Drug Unit to be headed by Deputy State’s Attorney Perry Paylor, to focus on reducing the prevalence of opioids and fentanyl in the community. Another issue she plans to focus on is carjacking.
Some of the biggest moments of her tenure thus far were successfully prosecuting the murder of Lt. Richard Collins, a Bowie State student who was killed on the College Park campus, testifying in Annapolis to expand the definition of hate crimes in Maryland, and improving reentry measures by providing second chances. The Emerging Adults program is designed for young adults before they are released, providing court and resources to prevent recidivism and improve outcomes for returning citizens.
She also created a Multicultural Community task force and an LGBTQIA task force, the first of its kind in the county.
Prince George’s County Sheriff John Carr, who was elected last year, was in attendance and believes that attending such seminars is valuable.
“The biggest thing I hope people can learn is working together through the justice system, gaining trust and respect to support our efforts and ensure safety throughout the county,” he said.
Some of the other attending electeds were Laurel Councilman Keith Sydnor (D), District 22 Del. Ashanti Martinez (D), District 23 Sen. Ron Watson (D), District 24 Delegate Tiffany Alston (D), District 25 Delegate Nick Charles (D), District 39 Delegate Gabriel Acevero (D), county Council member At-Large Calvin Hawkins (D) and Council Vice Chair Wala Blegay (D). Delegate Darryl Barnes (D), who recently announced his upcoming retirement from the General Assembly, was relaxed in attire with sneakers, yet still attentive to the presentations of the evening.
“Most state’s attorneys come in and focus on crime but she’s focused on more than that. She wants to help build back our communities, so let’s give her a hand,” Blegay said before the state’s attorney came up to speak. “The biggest issue I hear about in Prince George’s County is crime. I read a report where we are losing population faster than any of the surrounding counties. If we do not address the situation of crime and Justice, it will affect our region and our community.”
Jeanette Brandon runs Together We Can, a nonprofit centered on assisting community residents, particularly youth, seniors and victims of domestic violence.
During the seminar, Braveboy said “We have implemented smart and bold strategies to fight domestic violence, including a strangulation protocol. After implementing these strategies, we have seen a 42% decrease in partner homicides in Prince George’s.”
Brandon is supportive of hosting public seminars to learn more about new laws and public safety updates.
“It gives people the knowledge that a lot of them don’t have, opens their minds to learn things that they wouldn’t know otherwise,” she said.
Tim Esuola, a county native who now works as an Enrollment Service Specialist at Bowie State University, said such seminars “gives us the exposure, lets students know what’s going on. Especially the criminal justice majors, who get to see people in their field. I like this event.”
The Bowie State Criminal Justice Department offers the only college courses in the state for inmates at Jessup Correctional Facility, and one of only two operated by HBCUs in the nation. An education program for incarcerated women will begin this fall.