Accountability

 
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.