Moore’s pick for Juvenile Justice cabinet post heads to Senate for confirmation, without Republican support in committee
In a five-minute meeting on Wednesday, the Senate Executive Nominations Committee voted to advance the final two pending Cabinet nominees put forward by Gov. Wes Moore (D).
Anthony Woods was unanimously recommended for confirmation by the committee as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Vincent Schiraldi, a nationally recognized criminal justice and prison reformer Moore picked to head the Juvenile Services Department, received three “no” votes from committee Republicans, but will move on to the full Senate for consideration.
There was no discussion of the nominees at the brief meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
After the meeting, members of the Senate Republican Caucus issued a statement that they were “deeply committed to their responsibility to consent to and advise the Governor on his appointees to his Cabinet.”
Caucus members originally withheld Schiraldi’s name from a committee vote Monday night, with Minority Leader Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Upper Shore) saying he might be “a little progressive for some of our members.”
Schiraldi is the only Cabinet secretary to receive less than unanimous support from the committee.
Democrats in the full Senate chamber, if needed, have enough votes to confirm Schiraldi’s appointment without any Republican support.
The nominees are expected to receive a vote by the full Senate on Friday.
Schiraldi most recently has been a senior research scientist at the Columbia University School of Social Work and co-director of the Columbia Justice Lab in New York.
Before that, he was commissioner of New York City’s Department of Correction, which oversees the long-troubled Rikers Island — a position to which former Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) appointed him in May 2021. He attempted to close the New York jail and eliminate the practice of solitary confinement, as well as managing to anger the unions representing jail employees, before the new mayor, Eric Adams (D), fired him in late 2021, before he took office.
Schiraldi had previously worked in the de Blasio administration from 2014 to 2015, as a senior adviser to the director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. For four years before that he was a commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. Earlier, in 2005, he was director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services in Washington, D.C.
During Monday night’s committee meeting, Republican lawmakers peppered Schiraldi with questions, including about how he would balance “healing and resiliency” over “punishment and surveillance.”
Schiraldi responded, in part, that balance was required. He also voiced support for restorative justice practices and a robust program of rehabilitation services for youth in detention.
“While the Acting Secretary of Juvenile Services may be academically qualified for this role, our caucus is concerned his radical reform philosophies would further exacerbate an out-of-balance system that treats offenders as the victims and neglects the true victims’ right to justice,” the Republican caucus statement released Wednesday said. “There is consensus that we want a society that finds ways to provide second chances, however, the actions of violent offenders, even as juveniles, cannot be dismissed.”
The other secretaries who are likely to come up for a full Senate confirmation vote on Friday are: Paul Wiedefeld, acting transportation secretary; Serena McIlwain, acting secretary of the environment; Jake Day, acting secretary of Housing and Community Development; Carolyn Scruggs, acting secretary of public safety and correctional services; Rafael J. López, acting secretary of human services; Atif Chaudhry, acting secretary of general services; and Rebecca Flora, acting planning secretary.