justice from the frontlines: April 24, 2023

More shooting victims in Baltimore

Baltimore police are investigating a quadruple shooting in the Charles North neighborhood, all four men hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Police are searching for witnesses and cordoned off the area. The Baltimore Banner (Apr. 17, 2023)

House attempts to block DC police reform

MPD police in DC.

The House passed a resolution blocking a police accountability package in Washington, D.C. which includes a ban on chokeholds, access to officer disciplinary records and body camera video. This comes after Congress passed a resolution a month ago that overturned a D.C. law lowering penalties for certain crimes. NBC News (Apr. 19, 2023) 

Baltimore officer charged with assault in arrest

Baltimore police Officer Kevin Hilton has been indicted on second-degree assault and misconduct charges for shoving a handcuffed man into a patrol car despite his screams of pain. The man informed police that he had undergone knee replacement surgery and couldn’t bend or lift his leg. The officer has been suspended from his duties. The Baltimore Banner (Apr. 19, 2023) 

transgender women sues Baltimore jail system for prison rights.

Lawsuit filed for the poor treatment of transgender people in MD

A transgender woman Chelsea Gilliam filed a lawsuit against the state-run Baltimore jail system. She claims the jail placed her in an all-male dorm, allowed other detainees to sexually assault her and harass her. Her allegations echo the stories of others who testified before Maryland lawmakers to change the policies surrounding how transgender people are treated in prisons and jails. The Baltimore Banner (Apr. 19, 2023) 

Grand jury refuses do indict

A Fairfax County, VA grand jury did not indict a police officer who fatally shot 37-year-old Timothy McCree Johnson. Johnson was killed after being chased by police through a mall where he allegedly stole sunglasses from a store. Johnson’s family’s lawyer called the shooting an “execution.” Johnson’s mother believes her son would not have been killed if it weren’t for racism. The DCist (Apr 18, 2023)

Good time credits in VA go to court

The Virginia Supreme Court will hear two cases filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) over a reversal on earned prison sentence credits. The ACLU alleges the policy change was unlawful because it was not applied retroactively. The state Supreme Court agreed to hear both cases. The Virginian-Pilot (Apr. 20, 2023) 

W. VA state trooper placed camera in female trainees locker room

A second notice to sue the West Virginia State Police was filed by an attorney on behalf of five women who were training at the State Police Academy during the time a camera was discovered in the women’s locker room. The notice follows a state Department of Homeland Security investigation that revealed a senior state trooper placed the camera before March 2016, and that other troopers destroyed evidence in the form of a thumb drive containing video from the camera in the women’s locker room.  WV Public Broadcasting (Apr. 20, 2023) 

MD prisons severely understaffed

A new report by AFSCME Maryland Council 3 warns that Maryland prisons are facing a staffing crisis that threatens public safety due to “alarming levels of mandatory overtime, burnout and dangerous working conditions”. The union estimates that Maryland’s adult prisons would require the hiring of 3,417 new officers to reach safe staffing levels. The shortage has led to a higher number of violent assaults and other issues that have affected prisoner well-being and services like visitation and medical appointments. The Baltimore Banner  (Apr. 20, 2023) 

in other news

Officials involved in the 2019 shooting of Jacob Harris have been found to have made inconsistent or false statements, while Harris’s friends are facing murder charges; his father, Roland Harris, continues to fight for justice. The Appeal (Mar. 14, 2023) 

The Supreme Court ruled that Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed can seek post-conviction DNA evidence to prove his innocence in the 1998 murder of Stacey Stites. CNN (Apr. 19, 2023)

The Justice Department urges state and local judges to reduce fines and fees charged in their courts that disproportionately affect the poor, juvenile offenders, and people of color, calling the practice discriminatory and damaging. The New York Times (Apr. 20, 2023) 

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Lulia started working as a Research & Reporting Intern for The Des in January 2023. She is a third-year student at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Journalism, International Relations & Global Studies and East Asian Studies. Growing up in the US, Saudi Arabia, and China has given her a unique perspective on international relations and sparked her interest in understanding the ways in which technology impacts civil rights and privacy.

Before joining The Des, Lulia worked as an undergraduate researcher at the Global Disinformation Lab, where she gained valuable experience in researching and understanding the ways in which disinformation and emerging technologies impact policy. She hopes to continue gaining valuable experience and knowledge through her internship at The Des, and use this experience to further her career in journalism and public policy.