Maryland’s 8th District

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2015

CONTACT:  Bridgett Frey – 202-225-5384

Ian Jannetta – 202-225-1527

Van Hollen on MSNBC: Lack of Economic Opportunity and Access to Justice Demands Urgent Action

Washington, DCToday Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen joined MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts to discuss the situation in Baltimore. An excerpt of the interview is below:

“Well, Thomas, first and foremost, our hearts and prayers have gone out to the people of Baltimore during this very difficult time. I’ve been in touch with leaders in Baltimore City to let them know that we stand with them in the quest for justice and in the quest for peace, and stand by and ready to provide any help and assistance that we can at this time.”

“Once we get to the bottom of what happened in a transparent way and hold people accountable, we need to have a conversation and we need to have action to begin to address some of the really fundamental underlying issues here that led to the tragedy in Baltimore City but also tragedies we’ve seen elsewhere around the country.”

“The reality is that we need to step up and modernize the war on poverty and the effort to make sure there’s more equal opportunity and shared prosperity, as opposed to prosecuting what has been a totally failed war on drugs, which has had the devastating consequence of locking up millions of people for non-violent offenses. And it’s had a disproportionate impact on minority communities, where people have less access to the legal system and lawyers, and where people are more intensively targeted by law enforcement. So we need to take a fundamentally different approach going forward.”

“I think this is a lack of fundamental economic opportunity in communities around the country that have been left behind – where you’ve seen job flight, where you see wages that do not support a living, where people who can work full-time are still making less than the poverty level, where we haven’t invested the kind of resources we need from the earliest ages for education. And you couple the lack of effort and resources in those fundamental areas, and contrast that to the fact there’s been so much emphasis on locking people away for some of these non-violent offenses – you’re actually getting the worst of both worlds. So this moment requires not just reflection, but it really requires action. And it requires action at the neighborhood level, at the state level, and at the federal level. And it needs to involve every community in the State of Maryland and every community around the country.”