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Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has announced an end to the prosecution of certain offenses in the city. Reflecting on a year of scaled-back law enforcement, Mosby found that going after quality-of-life crimes did not improve public safety.
The announcement came one week after it was reported that Mosby and her husband were the subjects of a federal investigation.
According to an NBC News report, over the past year, violent crime in Baltimore decreased by 20%, and property crime went down 36%.
Drug-related arrests decreased 80% under the new policy. Mosby hopes the city can be a model of public safety for others.
“The data suggest there is no public safety value in prosecuting low-level offenses,” Mosby said Friday during a press conference.
Announcing a “new progressive direction” on handling arrests and prosecutions, Mosby said the city would no longer spend limited resources on “low-level crimes.” In addition to drug possession, Mosby’s office will not prosecute prostitution, public urination, and other minor crimes.
She declared war on drugs effectively 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,” said Mosby in a statement. “We will develop sustainable solutions and allow our public health partners to do their part to address mental health and substance use disorder.”
Last March, Mosby announced a new policy seen to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the number of people detained and imprisoned during the pandemic. Mosby ordered the release of those arrested for non-violent offenses such as open containers, minor traffic offenses, trespassing, prostitution, and drug possession at the outset of the pandemic. She said this followed her prior commitment to stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases.
Some in Baltimore say more scrutiny is needed due to alleged practices of assistant state attorneys in Mosby’s office. The group Baltimore Courtwatch said attorneys in Mosby’s office still use the presence of drugs or the odor of marijuana as a justification to move forward in certain prosecutions.
Aside from Mosby’s policy, the city of Baltimore is encouraging residents to help co-create a new vision of public safety for the city. The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is currently holding virtual community engagement sessions.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott also plans to hold sessions with youth in the city. Established by Scott shortly after his election, the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement frames public safety as a public health issue.
“Reimagining public safety in Baltimore requires innovation and collaborative effort,” said Scott.
Mosby and her husband, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby, are being investigated for potential campaign finance violations, with subpoenas being sent to the “power couple” as well as churches for financial information. The Mosbys’ lawyer called the investigation a “political witch hunt in its purest form” and said his clients had committed no wrongdoings.
Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.
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