Baltimore will no longer prosecute certain low-level crimes, which include prostitution, drug possession, and minor traffic offenses, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Friday.
“The move was unveiled in a press release from Mosby’s office as it reported ‘one-year success’ of policies implemented last March to not prosecute the nonviolent charges amid the coronavirus pandemic,” the Hill reported.
According to the release, the policies enacted in 2020 “have resulted in a decrease in arrests, no adverse impact on the crime rate, and address the systemic inequity of mass incarceration,” thus the state’s attorney announced the “permanent adoption” of the policies.
Today, America’s war on drug users is over in the city of Baltimore. We leave behind the era of tough-on-crime prosecution and zero tolerance policing and no longer default to the status quo to criminalize mostly people of color for addiction. We will develop sustainable solutions and allow our public health partners to do their part to address mental health and substance use disorder.
Clearly prosecuting low-level offenses with no public safety value is counterproductive to the limited law enforcement resources we have. When the courts open next month, I want my prosecutors working with the police and focused on violent offenses, like armed robbery, carjacking cases and drug distribution organizations that are the underbelly of the violence in Baltimore, not using valuable jury trial time on those that suffer from addiction.
However, state Sen. Robert Cassilly, a Republican from Harford County, told Fox 45, “Prosecutors take an oath to uphold the constitution in the state of Maryland and the constitution says the general assembly sets the policy, not the prosecutors.”
“I respect the whole prosecutorial discretion. That’s not prosecutorial discretion, that’s an exercise in legislating. That’s what the legislature is supposed to do,” he continued.
When Mosby was asked to respond and if she was concerned about sending a message that lawlessness could be tolerated, she said, “I say follow the data. So, what we’ve been able to prove in the past year is that crime has decreased.”
In the 12 months since the scaled-back enforcement was ordered, violent crime reportedly decreased 20 percent and property crime came down 36 percent, according to NBC News.
“Homicides inched down, though Baltimore still has one of the highest homicide rates among cities nationwide,” the outlet said.
The Baltimore Police Department will continue working with the State’s Attorney Office regarding violent crimes, according to Commissioner Michael Harrison.
“We will continue to be responsive to the public safety needs of our residents and hold violent criminals accountable,” he concluded.