Wes Moore, Maryland’s new governor, spent his first full day in office Thursday announcing millions of dollars in funding for various programs, holding his first cabinet meeting, and meeting with Maryland’s top two prosecutors to discuss crime and public safety.
During his meeting with new Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown and U.S. Attorney for Maryland Erek Barron, Moore emphasized his focus on public safety and his intention to better use existing resources and collaborate with other public safety agencies.
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He also acknowledged the high number of vacancies in some agencies, such as the Department of Parole and Probation, and the state’s high recidivism rate.
“We want to start here because this will be a core priority for this administration,” said Moore, as he stood beside Brown, Barron and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller.
Lt. gov to focus on behavioral health
Moore also announced that behavioral health will be a priority for his administration, with a focus on reducing crime and addressing the overrepresentation of people with behavioral health issues in the criminal justice system, an issue that Miller will oversee.
“This is going to be a core aspect of her leadership and responsibilities,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, we are still seeing a state where some of the largest behavioral and mental health providers that we have in the state of Maryland is our criminal justice system.”
Miller said people suffering from behavioral health issues are overrepresented in the criminal justice system “and we need to focus on our health care efforts.”
When asked about the possibility of increasing penalties for crimes committed with guns, Moore didn’t get into specifics — but seemed to suggest he supported the idea and stressed the importance of working with prosecutors and lawmakers to address the issue of violent offenders and illegal guns.
“We have to be able to address the issue,” Moore said. “What we’re seeing in many communities is, it’s violent offenders and repeat violent offenders that will continue causing harm inside our communities.”
He also highlighted the need to find the proper balance in addressing juvenile crime and rehabilitation.
“When we’re talking about children and we’re talking about the impact it’s happening on children across our state,” said Moore, “it is both making sure we have the proper amounts of accountability and at the same time … addressing the pipeline issues” adding, “focusing on a measure of rehabilitation and reentry is also going to be a key pillar.”
He said “accountability on all Marylanders is real … and at the same time, we’re going to make sure that we’re adding a level of humanity in understanding who it is that we’re talking about.”