PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Md. Gubernatorial Candidates Highlight Public Safety Proposals

During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, law enforcement, government officials and community leaders are pushing collaborative efforts to decrease crimes such as gun violence and carjackings.

According to Prince George’s County police, between July 30 and July 31 six people died from fatal shootings, including 17-year-old Kyree Duvall of Hillcrest Heights.

As of Sunday, Aug. 8, a Baltimore Sun database shows Baltimore City recorded 202 homicides this year. At that pace, the city could reach 300 homicides for a seventh straight year.

Maryland gubernatorial candidates Jon Baron, Ashwani Jain and Comptroller Peter Franchot released public safety plans in hopes of decreasing violence not only in those majority-Black jurisdictions but the entire state.

Baron, who said Aug. 6 that he is the first Democratic candidate to release such a plan, asserted his public safety initiative presents a solution in four parts: focused deterrence, voluntary drug treatment court, prison therapy for inmates scheduled for release and intervention for at-risk youth.

Jon Baron (Courtesy of Jon Baron for Maryland)
Jon Baron (Courtesy of Jon Baron for Maryland)on

“This is a thoughtful, strategic way of going about reducing violence and improving safety,” the former nonprofit executive said in an interview Sunday. “The usual approach is to roll out one new plan after another and say, ‘This is the next new thing,’ with no new evidence behind it.”

One part of Barron’s plan would utilize Baltimore’s “focused deterrence” program and make it statewide.

Last month, Mayor Brandon Scott announced a five-year plan to reduce gun violence by 15 percent through an approach where government officials, law enforcement and community leaders work hand-in-hand.

The initiative, which includes job training and substance abuse treatment, would be paid for from the city’s $640 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan.

According to National Institute of Justice data, Oakland, Calif.’s deterrence program decreased total shootings by 20 percent per year.

In Baltimore, the plan also offers those who may become repeat offenders a choice for a better life than running the streets.

“If they don’t accept the offer and continue to act violently, then they will be subject to strong, focused attention from law enforcement,” Baron said. “It really offers them a positive way forward.”

Jain’s Plan

Jain, a program director for the National Kidney Foundation serving the DMV, updated his “Maryland Now Plan” on Monday with a proposal to legalize marijuana and expunge records for those wrongfully imprisoned.

Ashwani Jain (Courtesy of Jain for Governor)
Ashwani Jain (Courtesy of Jain for Governor)

Under his cannabis plan, small rural and urban farmers in Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore and Baltimore would be targeted to expand the state’s Economic Opportunity Zones with tax credits and other incentives.

In taxing marijuana, the state would receive at least $100 million in revenue, according to his proposal.

He also wants to eliminate the state income tax on 95 percent of Maryland workers, guarantee free public transit for all residents, create a guaranteed jobs program for unemployed workers and anti-corruption policies that would bar Maryland’s governor, lieutenant governor and state agency heads from serving on for-profit corporate boards while in office.

“This plan will expand economic opportunities and inclusion for all Marylanders; assist those who either have a job or need a job; help our climate; create hundreds of thousands of new jobs; reduce some of the racial injustices we face; and improve the daily lives of residents in every county across the state,” Jain said in a statement.

Reduce Recidivism

Franchot’s public safety initiative, labeled “A Level Playing Field,” offers a few similar police reforms like his Democratic counterparts, such as banning no-knock warrant and treating addiction as a public health crisis.

If elected governor, Franchot said, he would reduce the recidivism by at least 50 percent by 2030 through two initiatives: offer returning citizens temporary housing, job training and provide “family-supporting wages” and create a statewide version of the D.C. Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens Affairs.

He also said he wants to:

– Create a statewide pilot program for adults and youth that offers trauma-informed care and psychological services to victims of violence.

– Require the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to decertify any officer whose law enforcement record shows dismissal or resignation while under investigation for misconduct or excessive force.

– Expand independent review of civilian deaths by police that include use-of-force incidents when a person needed to be hospitalized.

In addition to his public safety proposals, Franchot also announced he would create a cabinet position entitled the Secretary of Diversity.

The Democratic primary on June 28 proposes to feature these candidates who formerly announced to seek the state’s highest office: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot; former state Attorney General Doug Gansler; former President Barack Obama official Ashwani Jain; former U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr.; Wes Moore, an author and former leader of national anti-poverty organization; former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez; and economist Michael Rosenbaum.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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