Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative - Mission Statement

Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative is a four phase initiative. Our mission is to advocate and promote humane and sensible criminal justice and sentencing policies for those incarcerated long term in Maryland prisons. The aims and objectives of our initiative are to advocate for policies so that individuals who have been incarcerated for many years may receive meaningful consideration for release.  We believe that through actions of restoration, redemption and reconciliation, we can create long-term systemic change.

The purpose of this initiative is to advocate on behalf of those serving long term sentences so these men and women have a meaningful opportunity to regain their freedom and contribute to the communities from which they came.  The initiative began in 1995 when policies changed in the Maryland Division of Correction for persons serving long term incarceration such that parole for this group was effectively eliminated. Concerned citizens, advocates, and family members and friends have attempted to change this policy.

    In May 1999 the first ever all day Seminar to bring members from the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches of Maryland State Government together was scheduled.  The purpose was to establish policies, and if necessary, change law in this area. However a lock down of the institution where it was to be held caused the event to be canceled. It was again scheduled for December 2001, but the event instead changed into a photo op and general discussion by DOC officials.

The Seminar was rescheduled to take place in September 2006, but the tragic death of a correctional officer at the Maryland House of Correction, and its subsequent closing, canceled the event once again. Finally, in 2008, sponsors, partners, family members, and friends decided to host the event on the outside, and Phase I took place May 14, 2008 at the Cork Gallery, hosted by Ms. Polly Riddims, Director of the Fusion Group.  Phase II of the initiative was held on September 20 at Morgan State University in cooperation with the Social Work Department, chaired by Dr. Anna McPhatter.  

We hosted Phase III January 10, 2009. This event was also partnered with Dr. Anna McPhatter and the Social Work Department. We listed this event as a ‘Town Hall’ meeting. The objective was to consolidate the support system, inform family members, friends and the general public of legislation to be introduced in the up coming general assembly session, and discuss the issue of long-term incarceration on family members. Phase IV began with our having legislation introduced, Senate Bill 900 in 2009, and SB-901 and HB-940 in 2010. In 2011 we received a margin of success with the passage of SB-172 and HB-302. This legislation, though positive, does not address our over all concern, which is the politicization of the parole process. We will continue our efforts, and we need your support as we move forward to correct this inherent miss courage of justice. ‘We will never give in, nor will we ever give up.”


Walter Lomax, Executive Director
Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative

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