Working To Enhance The Quality Of Life
In Baltimore And In Maryland.

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Abell Brief: Fall 2018

Abell Brief Fall 2018

Working To Enhance The Quality Of
Life In Baltimore And In Maryland.



FALL 2018


Lakeland Elementary Middle School

Nine years ago, Lakeland Elementary Middle School was struggling. Enrollment was at just 516 students, and teacher turnover was high. Under the leadership of Principal Najib Jammal, the school has undergone a dramatic transformation, as evidenced by its current enrollment of over 900 student and more stable teaching staff. In 2018, students posted strong PARCC scores. More than 50 percent of third graders met or exceeded proficiency on the math exam, and 43 percent met those standards on the English language exam. Lakeland’s success is rooted in the successful implementation of high-quality interventions that empower teachers to bring out the best in students. 

Learn more about Lakeland here.



The Ungers, 5 Years and Counting: A Case Study in Safely Reducing Long Prison Terms and Saving Taxpayer Dollars

With support from the Abell Foundation, the Justice Policy Institute looked at what happened when Maryland released nearly 200 older people from prison as a result of the Unger v. Maryland case. The 2012 case centered on remedying improper jury instructions and applied to a cohort of people who had been sentenced to life in prison prior to 1981.

With the support of specialized reentry programming provided by the University of Maryland School of Social Work and funded by the Open Society Institute–Baltimore, recidivism among the Unger releasees has been incredibly low. In the six years since the decision, only five out of the 188 people released under the Unger ruling have returned to prison for violating parole or a new crime – less than 3 percent. Maryland’s overall recidivism rate is 40 percent.

What happened to the Unger releasees after they left prison offers many important lessons around sentencing and criminal justice policy reform.

Read the full report here.



In November, Abell Foundation President Robert C. Embry, Jr., discussed Baltimore’s need for better data as the city works to decrease the number of murders and increase public safety in an opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun. How can the city best deploy its limited resources, including an understaffed Police Department, to reduce violence? We don’t know, but any strategies that the city chooses to employ should be backed by evidence.

The Baltimore Police Department spent $47 million in overtime and argues that they can’t manage overtime expenditures because they still use paper time sheets. From 2007-2010, however, the department cut overtime spending in half without fancy software. In an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, Abell Foundation Vice President Sheryl Goldstein argues it could be done again using existing tools. 



Keeping the Water On: Strategies for addressing high increases in water and sewer rates for Baltimore’s most vulnerable customers

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works recently proposed a water rate hike. Under the proposed plan, rates could go up as much as 9 percent every year for the next three years. While the plan also includes some protections for low-income households, advocates worry it will not be enough.
In Abell’s 2016 report, Keeping the Water On, author Joan Jacobson examined how low-income households in Baltimore City already were struggling to pay their water bills, creating additional hardship for families. The report highlights several examples for assistance programs from across the U.S. that Baltimore could use as a model and makes recommendations for reforms.
Read the report here