Stop Maryland from Building a New Women's Jail in Baltimore
This petition made change with 87 supporters!
“If you build it, they will come.”
While this quote originally concerned a baseball field, it also applies to corrections: more jails and prisons mean more people behind bars. Once the costs are sunk in a new facility, it’s that much easier to justify policies that incarcerate more people, from policing strategies, to pretrial decisions, to sentencing options.
Maryland is planning to build a new pretrial jail facility for women arrested in Baltimore city that would hold more than twice as many women as are currently detained. Baltimore already has one of the highest percentages of people locked up in jail as any large city in the country. It’s time to say NO to MORE JAIL BEDS.
The new facility was based on projected increases in crime, arrests and the number of women in jail. According to a recent report by the Justice Policy Institute, these projections were wrong. Since 2006, the city’s violent crime rate, number of arrests and women in jail all fell by more than 10 percent . As of January 2010, about 400 women were detained in the jail, compared to the projected 810. Building a bigger jail will only lead to more women behind bars.
Over 75 percent of women in the Baltimore jail were arrested for nonviolent offenses like prostitution, violations of probation or drug offenses; yet, many will spend months, even years, awaiting trial behind bars because they cannot post even small bail amounts. Instead of spending $181 million to build a new jail, state leaders should work with Baltimore agencies and organizations to reduce court delays and unnecessary arrests and improve treatment and services for women not only during and after jail, but beforehand so women can avoid coming in contact with the justice system in the first place. The time for real solutions is now. Don’t build a new jail, fix a broken system.
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