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Baltimore, Maryland– The People’s Commission to Decriminalize Maryland will be closing out their work as a collective in Spring 2023. We are proud of the commission’s accomplishments over the past four years and feel optimistic that the future of decriminalization efforts in Maryland is bright.


When the commission formed in 2019, we hoped to amplify the work of our partners and raise awareness of the ways Maryland’s Criminal Code could be amended to cause less harm to our loved ones and community members. The commission presented a different way to think about justice advocacy in Maryland by looking at how status offenses were affecting our community members.


Over these past four years, The People’s Commission has brought awareness of the importance of decriminalizing the status of Maryland’s most marginalized populations through education and advocacy. With the support of our partners, the People’s Commission completed a survey of Maryland’s Criminal Code and published our findings. Over the 2021 and 2022 legislative session, we collectively submitted over 20 pieces of testimony in support of decriminalization efforts surrounding youth justice, drugs and paraphernalia, bodily autonomy and the unhoused population.


The work of the commission’s work groups will be continued by partner organizations as several new and robust coalitions have formed in the past year. Progressive Maryland now heads the Statewide Drug Decriminalization Coalition and will be addressing how we ensure Maryland’s new cannabis laws provide reparations for harms targeting Black neighborhoods. The Job Opportunities Task Force will continue to lead on issues of poverty criminalization, including introducing bills that seek to end fines and fees imposed by courts that unduly burden those without financial resources. The Maryland Youth Justice Coalition has been reestablished and will continue the fight to ensure that the recommendations made by the Juvenile Justice Reform Council are implemented. Finally, we are encouraged by the newly formed Trans Rights Advocacy Coalition, which has already made strides in addressing issues of bodily autonomy for Maryland residents.


These past four years of The People’s Commission have been an inexplicably rewarding experience. It has been an honor to support a community of partners whose passion for decriminalizing Maryland shines through all aspects of the work. We are confident in the abilities of our partners and coalitions that will continue to work towards a more just and equitable Maryland.





We are so proud of the accomplishments of all of our partners this Session. It has been an honor to be a part of the passion and dedication you put into this Session's legislation. There is so much to celebrate! Here is the wrap-up of our priorities this Session:


Youth Justice:

1. SB691/HB459- Omnibus Youth Justice Reform Package

  • Passed with amendments.

2. SB53/HB269- Juvenile Law- Child Interrogation Protection Act

  • Veto overridden! Passed! Maryland will have one of, if not the strongest law protecting kids in police custody.

3. SB119/HB84- Crimes on School Grounds

  • Unfortunately did not pass. We will reintroduce this bill next Session.

Drug Policy:

  1. SB509/HB481- Drug Paraphernalia for Administration- Decriminalization

    • We are disappointed that Fergusson did not give his support for paraphernalia decriminalization.

    • Thank you to the medical professionals and community members who signed letters and urged senators.

Bodily Autonomy:

  1. SB669/HB626- Pregnant Person's Freedom Act

    • Did not pass

    • Only one abortion access bill passed this year and it was HB937- Abortion Cares Access Act, which passed after veto override. We are thrilled to see abortion become more accessible in Maryland through this legislation.

Poverty:

1. SB66- Labor and Employment - Hiring - Education Requirements (Give Me A Chance - Job Opportunities Act of 2022)

  • Passed! College degrees will no longer be required for most public sector positions within the state government!

2. SB275/HB8- Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022)

  • Passed!

3. SB554/HB158- Maryland New Start Act of 2022

  • Passed!

4. SB704/HB1011- Conditions of Pretrial Release - Home Detention Monitoring - Alterations and Extension

  • Passed with amendment. Coverage has been decreased from the initially proposed 3 years to 1 year.

5. HB38- Maryland Transportation Authority - Video Tolls - Collection & HB38 Maryland Transportation Authority - Video Tolls - Collection

  • Passed! Allows persons to challenge unjust toll fees

6. SB452/HB349- Small Claims - Examination in Aid of Enforcement and Interrogatories in Aid of Execution - Prohibition

  • Passed! This bill removed incarceration for the inability to pay back small debts (<$5,000)

7. STALLED:

  • HB655- Motor Vehicle Laws - Decarcerate Driving Uninsured

  • SB884/HB1293: Driver’s Licenses – Suspension for Child Support Arrearages – Exception

  • SB710 (REDEEM Act)- Criminal Procedure - Expungement of Records - Modifications


Congratulations to all of our partners!






The Unhoused Workgroup of the People’s Commission to Decriminalize Maryland is conducting listening sessions on lived experiences of homelessness or housing insecurity. This will help advocacy efforts and share the voices of the Young People for the purpose of changing or eliminating laws that may harm Young Marylanders because of their previous or current housing status. The listening session will take about 60 to 65 minutes.


Space is limited. Each participant receives as $75 e-gift card.


October 26, 2021 | Starts at 4:30pm

Private Virtual Zoom Session


Youth can share interest by clicking here.


Email questions to Isabel at Imclain@umaryland.edu.

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