Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City’s State Attorney, announced the city would no longer prosecute offenders of prostitution, drug possession, and other low-level offenses.
The new plan came as a method to decrease coronavirus cases behind bars and was announced on Friday following Mosby’s office one-year experiment in not prosecuting minor offenses, CNN reported.
“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, said Mosby in an official press release.
The experiment–The Covid Criminal Justice Policies–is an approach to crime planned out with public health authorities. Instead of prosecuting people charged with minor crimes like prostitution and public urination, the program opted to address those crimes as public health issues and work with community partners to help find solutions.
There has been an 18% decrease in incarceration rates, with violent and property crimes down 26% and 36%.
Drug and drug paraphernalia possession, prostitution, trespassing, minor traffic offense, open container violations, and urinating and defecating in public are offenses that will no longer be prosecuted.
Mosby wants to focus her attention on more pressing crime that plagues the city.
“When the courts open next month, I want my prosecutors working with the police and focused on violent offenses, like armed robbery, carjacking cases and drug distribution organizations that are the underbelly of the violence in Baltimore, not using valuable jury trial time on those that suffer from addiction,” Mosby started.
The state attorney’s office is also working with the Baltimore Police Department and the city’s Crisis Response Inc. to provide services to replace arrests to those who commit lesser offense crimes.
“Rather than arrest and prosecution, BCRI will connect individuals with services in areas such as mental health, housing, and substance use,” according to the press release.
Mosby’s office will work with the police and the crisis center to help support sex workers by teaming with SPARC, a center for women in southwest Baltimore, Baltimore Safe Haven, and the Baltimore branch of the Sex Workers Outreach Project.