An opportunity to press for change in Prince George’s County 

Daniel Nichanian

The state’s attorney of Prince George’s County (a populous African-American-majority county situated in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.) is running for county executive, and Maryland advocates have viewed the race to replace her as an opportunity to press for change. In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, the executive director of Progressive Maryland, Larry Stafford, laid out a range of areas—from the preponderance of pretrial detention and the insufficiency of diversion programs to officials’ attitude toward marijuana—that a new state’s attorney could transform.

In the Democratic primary, which in this county is tantamount to the entire election, the two candidates who have received the most endorsements and have raised the most money are state Senator Victor Ramirez and former state Delegate Aisha Braveboy, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for attorney general in 2014 (she received 20 percent statewide and 46 percent in county). Also running is Michael Lyles, a civil rights attorney.

On June 14, the Players Coalition, an advocacy organization made up of current and former NFL players, hosted a public forum where coalition members Anquan Boldin and Carl Davis asked Ramirez and Braveboy about their positions on a series of criminal justice issues. You can watch the video here.

All candidates have campaigned by emphasizing commitments to promote alternatives to prosecution and incarceration. Braveboy, who has been endorsed by the local police unions, wrote an op-ed in 2013 calling for boosts to diversion programs to diminish incarceration and criminal records. Ramirez was recently a chief sponsor of the unsuccessful Maryland Trust Act, which would have restricted state agencies’ use of resources for immigration enforcement and barred counties from joining 287(g) partnerships with ICE; he has been endorsed by Progressive Maryland. While in the legislature, Braveboy and Ramirez both voted for marijuana decriminalization and the repeal of the death penalty, two reforms that Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law.

Update: Aisha Braveboy won the Democratic primary on June 26; she is on her way to becoming the county’s new state’s attorney as she does not face a named opponent on the general election ballot.