Baltimore is ending the war on drugs. State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that the city will permanently stop prosecuting people for drug possession, prostitution, open container violations, and other low-level crimes.
The city halted those prosecutions last year as part of an experiment to reduce the number of people incarcerated during the coronavirus pandemic. City officials treated those crimes as a public health issue and worked with community groups and behavioral services to get people the help they needed instead of putting them in jail.
After implementing the plan, known as the Covid Criminal Justice Policies, Baltimore saw an 18% decrease in the number of people in jail, while violent crimes dropped by 20% and property crimes were down by 36%.
After reviewing the results of the experiment, Mosby decided to make the changes permanent.
"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," Mosby in a press release.
Not everybody is on board with Mosby's decision. Republican state Senator Robert Cassilly told WBFF that legislators set the law and that while prosecutors have some discretion when it comes to deciding whether to bring charges against an individual, Mosby's new policy goes too far.
"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," Cassilly said. "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."
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