We are committed to dismantling systems that reinforce discrimination, and we demand equitable treatment for marginalized and working-class communities.

1. Guaranteeing Education Access for Immigrant Marylanders

There shall be one law for the citizen and for the immigrant who dwells among you… – Exodus 12:49

Vision Statement: The book of Exodus, among other Jewish texts and traditions, writes that we are to apply the same law to all people living in our communities. The Maryland DREAM Act works toward this vision by allowing Marylanders to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities, regardless of their immigration status. The 2012 legislation which passed, leaves in place certain discriminatory practices. It is imperative that Maryland take the steps necessary to protect our migrant populations, especially ensuring DACA recipients’ continued access to education.

1. Defending and Expanding Bail Reform

“Every moment that one delays in freeing captives, in cases where it is possible to expedite their freedom, is considered to be tantamount to murder.” – Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 252:3

Vision Statement: As Jews, we believe in the innate dignity of every human being, and advocate for social and legal systems which recognize this basic human dignity and demonstrate a strong value for human life. Building a compassionate and equitable criminal justice system is one part of this vision. Yet, thousands of people are being held in Maryland jails without being convicted of a crime simply because they cannot afford bail. As a consequence, innocent people are locked up, traumatized, and in extreme cases, die. JUFJ supports well-funded pre-trial services as part of a comprehensive bail reform strategy.

2019 Legislative Goal: Defeat attempts to re-institute cash bail as the first resort of the criminal legal system, and fully fund pretrial services to encourage alternatives to pretrial incarceration.

2. Limiting Solitary Confinement

And the Lord G-d said, “It is not good for humans to be alone…” Genesis 2:18

Vision Statement: JUFJ’s work is guided by the Jewish value of Tzelem Elohim, that all people are created in the divine image. We strive to make sure all people are treated with dignity and respect in the eyes of our criminal justice system. Yet people incarcerated in the state of Maryland endure the torture of solitary confinement at nearly twice the national rate, with poor people and people of color being disproportionately targeted. The impact of this unjust system on prisoners’ mental and physical health is severe, and in extreme cases, fatal.

2019 Legislative Goal: Curb the use of solitary confinement. This could include bans on solitary confinement of youth and elders, restrictions on the time one can be confined to 15 days or fewer, or more comprehensive cuts to the use of solitary.

3. Trust and Safety for our Immigrant Neighbors

When strangers reside with you in your land, you shall not wrong them. The sojourners who reside with you shall be to you as your citizens; you shall love each one as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.. Leviticus 19:33-34

Vision Statement: Jews have been seen as foreigners many times throughout our history. As Jews and as human beings, we are obligated to make sure that those of us who were not born in our community are as safe as those of us who were. In light of the anti-immigrant rhetoric and action by federal law enforcement, many Maryland immigrants find it impossible to trust the government, the legal system, and publicly funded social services. We must pass the Maryland Trust Act so that nobody, regardless of immigration status, has to fear deportation or family separation when they seek community services or help from police.

2019 Legislative Goal: Pass the Maryland Trust Act and stop Maryland’s public dollars from aiding immigration enforcement.

4. Reducing Mass Incarceration

Put judges and police at all your gates that the Sovereign your G-d will give you for your tribes and they shall judge the people with just laws. Do not bend the law; do not show partiality; do not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. Justice, justice, shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Sovereign your G-d is giving you. – Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Vision Statement: Decades of research demonstrate that mandatory minimum sentences and other policies that lengthen periods of incarceration do not reduce crime.  In fact, they more often increase the crime rate and intensify the challenges faced by many communities in our state by destroying people’s lives and opportunities, especially those of young people of color. We oppose efforts to tie judges’ hands by instituting mandatory minimum sentencing, and we support efforts to reduce the harm caused by past mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

2019 Legislative Goal: Pass legislation to reduce the racist impact of the War on Drugs and block legislation that further criminalizes young people of color.

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