Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore State Attorney, has ordered for the dismissal of all pending criminal charges against petty criminals in an attempt to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
In a note to the governor sent out on Wednesday, Mosby highlighted a slew of petty crimes, including holding drugs, attempted drug distribution, prostitution, trespassing, public urination, open alcohol containers, and minor traffic offenses, and called for all pending charges to be dropped.
“An outbreak in prison or jails could potentially be catastrophic,” Mosby said in a statement, urging Gov. Larry Hogan to create guidelines that limit using jails to fight crime. “Just last week, experts reported that ‘Maryland jails are incubators for the coronavirus and precautions must be taken to avoid an outbreak.”
As she continued, Mosby explained that people who commit those crimes “pose no threat to public safety and would likely result in pre-trial release.”
Elsewhere, she called for a reduction in prison populations to help curb the coronavirus outbreak.
“With so many lives on the line, there are steps the Governor’s office can take to mitigate the spread of the virus behind prison walls,” Mosby said in the letter. “As prosecutors, we are committed to protecting the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community, and that includes people who are currently in prison or jail. I firmly believe that we can promote public health and public safety at the same time, and that’s what these new policies will achieve.”
However, in response to Mosby’s request, the Governor said, “We’re asking citizens to stay in their homes. The people in our correctional facilities are protected and in quarantine, so if we tell everyone else to stay home, but we’re going to let people out of prisons, it seems to have the opposite impact.”
Mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah also slammed the decision and called Mosby’s request to release inmates, particularly those over the age of 60 in state prisons and anyone approved for parole or scheduled to complete their sentences this year, an “irresponsible PR stunt.”
“Is the Governor on board? Is the Mayor on board? Is the Police Commissioner? The City Council? Were they even consulted? This does nothing to alleviate the outbreak risks in prisons, which absolutely must be addressed,” he said. “It does, however, tell people who are already nervous that basic laws won’t be enforced in Baltimore. That is the last thing people need to hear right now. This is a reckless PR stunt in the middle of a global crisis, and I assume the Mayor and Council President will condemn it.”