Clear explanations of why we will or will not prosecute certain crimes will be publicly available, instead of the current black-box approach. We'll maintain a working relationship with the judiciary and defense bar, so that decisions not to prosecute crimes that do not impact public safety are understood. This may also include a public address of what sorts of cases will not typically be prosecuted, and the rationale behind declining to do so.

 

Public Dashboard of Prosecutorial Decisions

I want to make the exercise of prosecutorial discretion more accessible to the public. This will start with data about prosecutorial decisions after an arrest is made, the number and types of cases prosecuted, and their resolutions (e.g.: compulsory program enrollment; financial penalties; incarceration.)

 

Prosecutorial Discretion Not to Prosecute

Montgomery County has a range of diversionary and non-penal programs that are underutilized because the prosecutor's office currently lacks a systematic approach to their application. We recognize that punitive measures do not always advance justice or provide safety, and will endeavor to identify which other resources at our disposal are an appropriate course.

  • Standardize the process of evaluation for diversion vs prosecution. Currently, there is no consistent set of rules for who gets offered diversion, or which factors are considered when pressing charges. As a result, there is opportunity for arbitrariness in the use of discretion. I envision a process by which we decide if or how to charge each case using a needs-based assessment, clear parameters for declination, and a priority decision tree for prosecution.

  • Seek nonprosecution.-To ensure public safety, we must seek prosecution  for certain crimes to threaten community safety, but  realize when prosecution of other crimes is not the best ways to administer justice.  A recent study shows nonprosecution of  misdemeanor offenses reduced future criminal activity.  Based on this study, the Mireku-North  administration will focus  on diverting people from the justice system,  especially those with drug addiction, mental health issues, or financial difficulties.  We will no longer prosecute, as written under Maryland law, the following cases:

·       Controlled Dangerous Substance- paraphernalia 

·       Failure to Obey

·       Disorderly Conduct

·       Driving Uninsured

  • Mental health/addiction - we will not prosecute when it is apparent  mental health issues if there is no risk to community safety or no indication of racial microaggression; instead, we will utilize existing programs as much as possible. If a need becomes obvious through our review of potential cases, but there is no program to suit it, we will share that insight with the appropriate agencies or propose a pilot. We will not seek incarceration solely for CDS possession convictions.

  • Poverty- our SAO will not penalize financial precarity, or unduly burden those with limited resources by depriving them of earnings opportunities or compounding their burdens. We will also eliminate requests for cash bail.

The prosecutor's office is charged with pursuing accountability for the accused, but in order to maintain legitimacy should also pursue accountability for state actors/agents. 
 
Prosecutors
The vision: a diverse workforce that engages with the various challenges different community members may face, that examines the historical and contemporary roles of the SAO in exacerbating or alleviating such challenges, and is dedicated to an vision of justice that is inclusive of racial and socioeconomic realities, mitigates harm, and fosters community stability.
  • Diversity: The SAO should reflect the diversity of the County it serves. In addition to seeking qualified candidates from diverse demographic and experiential backgrounds, we will work with area institutions to build pipelines and train interested parties.
  • Addressing bias: My team will foster a culture that recognizes implicit biases, and the unique burden on the SAO to be mindful of the impacts of racial and other discriminatory biases in charging decisions.
  • DEI culture: Our regular meetings as an office once a month would have a component where we address the social justice component to prosecution as well as the case updates. 
  • Conviction Review: We will conduct more comprehensive wrongful post-conviction reviews and address appeals of innocence. The current conviction integrity program has limited eligibility criteria, and doesn’t seek to prevent or redress the harm from wrongful convictions. The Department of Justice provides grants to jurisdictions with programs that partner their conviction integrity unit (CIU) with wrongful conviction restitution (WCR) entities to provide "high quality and efficient post-conviction representation for defendants in post-conviction claims of innocence." My intent is to enable our CIU to obtain such funding to be able to hold ourselves to account and repair damage done, as well as improve our approach moving forward.
  • Data informed: In part through transparency in decision-making and outcome-tracking, but also through periodic review of the outcomes and impacts of our strategy, we will adjust course and act to correct what unintended harm we may cause.
 
Police
In addition to cooperating and coordinating with the existing Policing Accountability Board, and the recent County public portal to collect police complaints,  we will follow up on issues referred to by the Policing Accountability Board or Police Department’s Internal Affairs, and advocate for state laws that facilitate police accountability. We will prosecute officers whose behavior is illegal under Maryland criminal law that erodes trust in law enforcements’ ability to keep communities safer. 
 
Alternatives to incarceration
Montgomery County has a variety of tools at its disposal that are underutilized, and the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force identified areas for additional alternatives to the current practice of primary reliance on incarceration.
  • In order to determine the right path for each case, it is important to understand who the accused is and what factors may contribute to their situation. The first opportunity to do so should be through a needs-based assessment in advance of making charging decisions or pre-trial.
  • Expanded eligibility for, and services under, mental health courts. This will necessitate partnership with the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and the judiciary, as well as Health and Human Services (HHS) and mental health providers to coordinate efforts and assess progress. One example is a youth mental health court, to reduce delinquency, increase offender accountability and rehabilitate youth offenders through a comprehensive, coordinated community-based juvenile probation. I would seek the legislative tool(s) needed to establish a policy of providing a clean-slate record for those who complete the program.
  • Expanding number of problem-solving courts to include the Emerging Adult Court.  Young adults should be able to be diverted to a path that provides them the best chance of altering course. A pilot program would intervene shortly after arrest, alongside the needs-based assessment, to identify root causes and direct the accused to resources that address them. For those who can be charged, their participation becomes compulsory and focuses on developing the coping skills (e.g.: financial literacy; mental health tools) and vocational skills (e.g.: apprenticeships) to put them on a path to productive citizenship. These resources should be available to incarcerated youth as well as those whose circumstances allow for community-based supervision. A case-by-case process would allow emerging adults to reduce or remove their criminal charges from their records by fulfilling certain conditions, like attending intensive programs. They may also need assistance or advocacy at the State level, in  removing media articles on them as well, as difficulty in finding work increases the risk of recidivism.
  • Diversion coordination team. Our administration will include a diversion coordinator to evaluate eligibility and recommend diversionary programs based on the accused's profile and relevant facts.  The coordinator will be part of a small team, including a data analyst, within the Office to assess our diversion programs for effects on recidivism and disproportionate racial impacts, and for ways the programs can be improved. Juvenile cases involve additional concerns not present in the 18+ population (e.g.: agency, compulsory schooling, parental rights, etc) and so should have a dedicated member of the diversion coordination team to address the youth issues. An attorney will be assigned to manage the office’s caseload of all various problem solving courts and pre-charge diversion opportunities  in the County.

With better transparency and accountability, we will be able to identify and address issues with equity of access to justice and fairness in our handling of cases. My office will expand outreach, pursue restorative justice where feasible, more closely evaluate when to request a bench warrant, review historical prosecutorial and sentencing data to identify areas of disproportionate targeting and impact, and identify additional opportunities to support rather than penalize those who do not pose an imminent public safety risk or traditionally are underserved.

 

Equitable Access

  • Open file discovery process: By favoring open discovery, we can obtain a more complete picture and provide the accused with an opportunity to present an adequate defense. This improves our chances of fair convictions.

  • Improve language access (on-demand interpreters, multilingual staff) beyond English and Spanish.

  • Create a Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs liaison to keep up to date with legislative changes and convey relevant information from the Office to legislators in Annapolis and Rockville.

Our prosecutors should play a part in minimizing harm and bringing healing and protection for victims, families, and communities.

  • Victims of, and witnesses to, violent crimes in particular deserve additional support and protection. In addition to hiring more victim and witness advocates, I would introduce a family bereavement program to provide additional support to those suffering loss as a result of criminal activity.

  • Assign a dedicated prosecutor for traffic fatalities

  • Facilitate access to existing assistance programs in partnership with other County resources (e.g.: economic loss after dismissed cases)

  • Support expansion of re-entry employment options (i.e.: partnership with local businesses, state employment resources, MCDOC, apprenticeship opportunities)

  • Treating gun violence as a public health problem. Vigorously support efforts to curtail violent crime through a public health lens, including the establishment of a violence interrupter program. Advocate for legislation that limits proximity to guns. 

  • Protection for women seeking abortion services, and abortion providers, in Montgomery County due to the Dobbs v Jackson decision. Those impeding on a woman's decision over their bodies will be held accountable. I would seek any  legislative tools a prosecutor can use to further protect a woman's decision over her reproductive healthcare.  We will maintain noncooperation with other states that penalize women making reproductive decisions over their bodies, and the healthcare providers that assist in those decisions. 

  • Improve prosecution of crimes that disproportionately affect women, families, and the elderly: (e.g.: wage theft, sexual assault, rape, human trafficking, financial fraud)

  • Economic crimes unit: I will hire/assign district and circuit court attorneys to prosecute wage theft and other abuses in the workplace.

  • Immigrant affairs unit: I will hire/assign attorneys to help provide the resources and guidance needed to reduce fear of engagement with law enforcement. They would also be responsible for fashioning pleas to avoid deportation triggers

  • Mitigating harm: conduct family/economic impact evaluations prior to sentencing, especially in domestic violence cases. 

  • We would promote an anti-bullying educational campaign, provide dedicated support to LGBTQ youth.

  • Seek prosecutorial tools to fight environmental harm in communities.

Transparency

Accountability

Equity & Fairness

Restoring and stabilizing communities