Baltimore County States Attorney Marilyn Mosby has announced that she is formally ending prosecutions of drug posession. There had been a temporary policy in place because of the pandemic, but this is a permanent change:
Declaring the war on drugs over in Baltimore, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday she will make permanent her COVID-19 policy to dismiss all criminal charges for the possession of drugs including heroin.
The city’s top prosecutor also said she will continue to dismiss criminal cases for nonviolent crimes of attempted drug distribution, prostitution, trespassing, open containers and minor traffic offenses. Since her office stopped taking these cases one year ago, prosecutors have dismissed 1,400 criminal cases and a similar number of warrants, she said.
Violent crime, meanwhile, has declined about 20% so far this year compared to the same three months of last year, largely before the coronavirus pandemic, according to police statistics. Similarly, property crime declined 35% when comparing those time periods.
“Clearly, the data suggests that there is no public safety value in prosecuting these low-level offenses,” Mosby said.
In March of last year, Mosby instituted her policy to dismiss all criminal cases of drug possession, saying she wanted to reduce the prison population and risk of a coronavirus outbreak behind bars. The policy fell in line with other progressive strategies she has brought to Baltimore, including a plan started in 2019 to dismiss all marijuana charges.
Mosby noted 911 calls for drug use, prostitution and public intoxication did not increase over the past year. In fact, she said the number of 911 calls for drugs declined by one-third compared to the same months before the pandemic. The 911 calls for sex work fell by half, she said.
“The concept is to provide a behavioral health rather than a criminal justice response” said Edgar Wiggins, the group’s executive director. “We have known for some time that this can be an effective way to address the underlying causes of this behavior.”
Nice to see some sanity in law enforcement.