Maryland recently completed its legislative session on April 12, 2021, a day legislators and advocates call Sine Die. Maryland is unique in how it makes laws because it is limited to a 90-day period, which began on January 13th this year. Most other states hold legislative sessions throughout the year. This shortened period results in Racial Justice NOW! parents and student advocates and educators to put in many long days and late nights to keep up with hearings, to provide testimony and to monitor the ever-evolving policy developments that happen with any bill introduced.
Racial Justice NOW! worked hand-in-hand with veteran organizers, and strategists, and lawyers from Baltimore, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and the Public Justice Center. RJN! testified and supported two companion bills. The first bill was introduced by Representative Jheanelle Wilkins. HB 496 Counselors not Cops intended to redirect $10 million allocated for SROs in Maryland to be reallocated into services that support inclusive, safe, and supportive youth development. The second bill, HB 1089 Police-Free Schools Act, introduced by Representative Gabriel Acevero, intended to prohibit SROs from regularly stationing on site at Maryland public schools. Neither bill received the necessary support to move forward this year.
While we will have to wait until the 2022 Maryland Legislative Session in January to attempt to change policies around Maryland’s statewide SRO practice, we continue to actively support removing them from schools.
“The presence of police in schools has escalated dramatically in the last several decades, and the figures on arrests and referrals to law enforcement show disproportionate targeting of Black and Latino students. This is just one aspect of the school-to-prison pipeline, where some students are denied an opportunity to succeed, and instead are pushed out of school and into the juvenile or criminal justice system.” Dignity in Schools Campaign.