The City of Baltimore will no longer prosecute certain low-level crimes, including prostitution, drug possession, and minor traffic offenses. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday.
The movement was unveiled in Press release from Mosby’s office as it reported “a successful year” of policies implemented last March not to prosecute non-violent charges amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the state attorney’s office, last year’s decision has “it resulted in a decrease in arrests, without an adverse impact on the crime rate, and addressed the systemic inequity of mass incarceration ”.
Due to the success of the policies, which were initially enacted as a way to reduce the chances of massive coronavirus outbreaks in prisons or jails, Mosby announced Friday that the changes would be permanent.
“Today, America’s war on drug users has ended in Baltimore City,” Mosby said in a statement. “We are past the era of harsh crime prosecution and zero-tolerance surveillance and are no longer in the status quo to primarily criminalize people of color for addiction.”
The attorney went on to say, “We will develop sustainable solutions and allow our public health partners to do their part to address mental health and substance use disorder.”
“It is clear that the prosecution of low-level crimes of no value to public safety is counterproductive to the limited police resources we have,” Mosby added. “When the courts open next month, I want my prosecutors to work with the police and focus on violent crimes, such as armed robbery, auto theft cases and drug distribution organizations that are the most vulnerable point of violence. in Baltimore, not to spend valuable jury trial time on those with addiction. ”
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) praised Mosby for Friday’s decision, writing in a statement: “I applaud the Mosby State Attorney’s Office for working with partners to stop violence in Baltimore and ensure that residents have the appropriate support services they deserve. ”
“Reimagining public safety in Baltimore requires innovation and collaborative effort,” he added.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a statement included in the press release that the police force will continue to “work in partnership with the State Attorney’s Office to focus on violent crime and reduce violence in our city.” .
“We will continue to respond to the public safety needs of our residents and hold violent criminals accountable,” said Harrison.
The state attorney’s office said that under the now permanent policies, it will no longer prosecute crimes ranging from possession of controlled substances and open containers to burglary and prostitution.
The policies, which were developed through coordination with various public health experts, helped decrease the overall incarcerated population in Baltimore by about 18 percent last year, according to data from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. city.
Additionally, there has been a 39 percent decrease in people entering the city’s criminal justice system, Mosby’s office announced Friday.
The move comes as more cities across the country have decided to reduce punishments for certain crimes and instead offer more services for those suffering from drug addiction and other assistance to low-income and minority communities as a way to prevent future crimes.