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Baltimore will no longer waste time and resources prosecuting low-level crimes.
On Friday, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced to the media that the city will stop prosecuting drug possession, prostitution, minor traffic violations, and other low-level offenses. Per NBC News, the city created this initiative at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the virus’s spread in local jails. Now, data suggests that there is no public benefit to putting minor criminals in jail.
“Clearly, the data suggest there is no public safety value in prosecuting low-level offenses,” Mosby said during a news conference revealing that this initiative will now be a permanent policy. Mosby went on to say that the police will work with a local nonprofit, Baltimore Crisis Response Inc., to provide help to residents suffering from homelessness, mental illness, and drug addiction instead of subjecting them to the judicial system.
“Our understanding is that the police are going to follow what they’ve been doing for the past year, which is not arresting people based on the offenses I mentioned,” she continued.
In the year since she first introduced the policy, violent crime is down 20 percent and property crime has declined 36 percent. Homicides have also declined even though Baltimore still has one of the highest murder rates in the country. While these are signs of improvement for the historically violent city, it is unclear if this policy is one that can be replicated by other cities.
Although other major cities also suspended the prosecution of low-level crimes, homicides rose 30 percent in 2020 when compared to the previous year. Also, aggravated assault and gun assault rates increased by nearly 10%.