Baltimore District Attorney’s Plan to Decriminalize Crime
At the end of March, Baltimore Chief Attorney Marilyn Mosby rose to the microphone and triumphantly announced, “Today the American war on drug addicts is over in the city of Baltimore. We are leaving the era of tough criminal prosecutions and zero tolerance policing. Mosby will also allow prostitution, trespassing, opening alcohol containers, public urination and defecation, and the “attempt” to distribute drugs. The reaction from the “decarcerative” left and the news media has been effusive, suggesting that the Charm City State Attorney (his elected district attorney) had offered the nation a role model, since the violent crime of Baltimore fell last year as it increased nationally. The truth is that Mosby’s plan, which she justifies with misleading statistics and glaring omissions, promises to make the city even more of a landscape of hell than it already is – a dilapidated, ravaged whole. crime and corruption that would be perfect for the next Hollywood. post-apocalyptic blockbuster. Mosby’s policy is a recipe for even more human misery, not a human alternative to vice and violence. The state attorney presides over the murder capital of major US cities, with one in 300 people murdered under his watch for six years. Mosby believes the cure for Baltimore’s dire ailments is to legalize outdoor drug markets, street corner brothels, and surface sewers. Boasting the success of his libertine experiment, in a way reminiscent of the ‘Hamsterdam’ story arc on David Simon’s HBO show The Wire, Mosby released statistics to prove his case, with violent crimes in 20% drop and property crime down 36% from midpoint. March 2020, when Mosby declared a free talk on so-called nuisance offenses which she said “do not pose a threat to public safety.” Mosby said she is permanently setting a temporary policy to exercise prosecution discretion that she inaugurated in March 2020 amid the initial COVID-19 lockdown. After dismissing more than 1,400 cases and quashing 1,400 other arrest warrants for such crimes, Mosby boasted that 18% fewer people were incarcerated in Baltimore year after year. Mosby the Miracle Worker, you say? Wait. In fact, the year before Mosby took office, Baltimore recorded 211 murders in a city of less than 600,000 people and on the decline. This equates to a homicide rate of 35 per 100,000 population. It has climbed beyond 300 for every year Mosby has served as chief prosecutor, hitting 348 murders in 2019, for a rate of 59 per 100,000 – a 65% increase since 2014. Last year, with 335 murders , the city recorded 57 homicides per 100,000 – twice the rate of Mexico and three times higher than Guatemala and El Salvador. This again shows a 59 percent increase in murders under Mosby. A libertine utopia is not Baltimore. And Mosby’s selective data hides the gory truth of Charm City’s crime, as she manipulates the media and the public’s understanding of what constitutes violent crime. According to the FBI, four offenses constitute the count for “violent crimes”: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault (including shootings). Depending on the year, the last two categories combined account for 80 to 90 percent of all violent crime in Baltimore or any major city. Their sheer size means that even a modest change in these numbers causes the overall rate of violent crime to vary dramatically. From March to March, Baltimore saw thefts drop 38% and street thefts (the largest share of thefts in Baltimore) by 48%. That’s 1,600 fewer assaults, which alone account for nearly 70% of the decline in violent crime in Baltimore. All robberies represent 83% of the decrease. This is hardly surprising, because with the lockdowns and pandemic closures in place, Brawl artists had far fewer targets to practice their craft on. This trend is consistent with the 14% drop in robberies this year in cities of similar size. Under Mosby’s tenure, violent crime did not fall. In fact, it skyrocketed 33% before last year. And that’s because she’s not very good at her job. While she publicly claims a 93% narcotic conviction rate – 85% for homicide, 91% for firearm crimes and 98% for narcotics – she fails to mention that these numbers exclude cases she has. dismissed while claiming credit for convictions for a lesser charge. , including in cases of homicide. If the denominator is small enough, Mosby looks impressive. But the truth is more optimistic. It abandons or loses more than 40 percent of its crime cases and fails to prosecute and imprison gun perpetrators. Shockingly, in 2018, Mosby obtained convictions for just 18% of “gun crime” incidents – a known pre-violence offense. Worse yet, most convicts do not see the inside of a jail cell for a long time, if at all, despite Maryland’s five-year legal minimum. An analysis from the Baltimore Sun showed that 43% were sentenced to less than a year in prison and 13% received no prison term at all. And for homicide, Mosby doesn’t get very impressive results. Of the 202 murder cases solved since 2017 (out of 1,300 murders during that period and 2,000 since becoming a state prosecutor), Mosby has obtained guilty verdicts in 38% of them, while pleading an additional 26%. Many of these pleas have been sentenced to lesser charges, including possession of firearms and obstruction of justice, as well as light sentences, in some cases only a few months in jail. Meanwhile, Mosby’s refusal to prosecute so-called “victimless crimes,” such as prostitution and drug possession, obscures the grim reality in Charm City. The drug of choice is not pot but heroin – now mixed with very dangerous fentanyl. And contrary to Mosby’s claim that addicts will benefit from his new leniency, fatal opioid overdoses, which were already extremely high in Baltimore, jumped 17% within six months of his order. But Mosby went further and extended his non-prosecution to “attempted distribution,” which is not a statutory Maryland term. Mosby was equally unclear about the existence of a possession threshold. In a revealing exchange at a city council hearing after Mosby’s announcement, a city councilor asked the Police Commissioner: “If someone is walking downtown with a backpack with three bricks of cocaine, I guess you’ll stop them rather than if someone is walking me downtown with three grams of cocaine, I guess you won’t stop them. The top cop in town replied, “I don’t know if the state attorney set the threshold, unless I remember her saying simple possession of any amount.” Sky is the limit! Now, the Baltimore DA allows sex workers to walk the streets without fear of police harassment. Shame on those taxpaying owners who frown on open-air brothels cluttering their streets with used condoms and lustful men! Meanwhile, sex workers themselves are often controlled by human traffickers and pimps and hard drug addicts, with no recourse to escape. Forcibly removing them from this hell might be the best thing that can happen to these desperate women (and men). A trip to the city jail gets them off the streets and away from the predators that employ them and an opportunity to connect with social services. Instead, Mosby plans to raise awareness on the streets, presumably in the belief that handing a business card to a girl who works under the watchful eye of her pimp will be a game-changer. None of this even addresses the usefulness of sex workers and drug addicts (and petty traffickers) to the police as informants and witnesses of violent crime. They know the players and the gossip and can go where the police can’t. Mosby strips the police of their influence to gain the valuable information needed to catch the real bad guys. As it stands, Baltimore Police make arrests in just a third of the city’s annual murders, and removing cops’ eyes and ears is unlikely to make their job any easier. For drug addicts and sex workers, there is a better solution, but it requires accountability and law enforcement. Steve Alm of Hawaii, formerly a judge and now chief prosecutor of Honolulu, started a program that uses “swift, certain and fair” incarceration through his “hard love” model. Defendants are assessed and offered treatment or resources, and then ordered to meet certain requirements (eg, Stay sober and stay out of trouble). If they fail to do so, they immediately receive a predetermined jail term (eg 30 days). After their confinement, the process begins again, but the penalties increase. It works – with a 72% reduction in drug use and a 55% drop in re-arrests for participants. Actions should have consequences and liability issues. Marilyn Mosby disagrees. Her announcement was oddly timed five days after news broke that federal prosecutors had summoned a grand jury to investigate the prosecutor and her husband, who is the chairman of the city council, for financial crimes. Mosby, a self-proclaimed “progressive agent of change,” says she is being persecuted for her policies – by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s Justice Department. Previously, she attacked the city’s Inspector General for reporting that Mosby, who earns $ 240,000 a year, was on undisclosed exotic and luxury junkets (for example, all-expense paid trips to Kenya and Portugal) during 20% of his working days in 2018 and 2019. It doesn’t matter whether it was Mosby who asked the investigation to clear it after the media discovered discrepancies in the documents filed by Mosby. Even though Mosby excuses the criminals for their actions, she seeks to blame others for her own misfortunes. A federal judge presiding over his case may not be so forgiving, however. In the past five years alone, two former Baltimore mayors and a police chief have faced a judge for their own crimes. Decriminalizing crime will only bring more misery to Baltimore. If misery loves company, Baltimore under Mosby is a company town.