‘Now is not the time for a piecemeal approach were we go into court and argue one by one for the release of at-risk individuals…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The city of Baltimore announced it will stop prosecuting nonviolent crimes, such as drug possession, trespassing, prostitution, attempted distribution and violating open-container laws, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The reduced number of arrests and prosecutions is an attempt to prevent the virus from overwhelming Maryland’s prison systems, claimed state attorney Marilyn Mosby.
“An outbreak in prison or jails could potentially be catastrophic,” Mosby said in a memo to prosecutors, according to the Baltimore Sun. “Now is not the time for a piecemeal approach were we go into court and argue one by one for the release of at-risk individuals.”
Mosby has also asked Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to free inmates over the age of 60, as well as inmates who have already been approved for parole or are scheduled to finish their sentences this year.
Mosby, who played a lead role in attacking law-enforcement over the death of Freddie Gray, is not exactly known for her stellar criminal justice record.
After several Baltimore cops stopped and searched Gray, inadvertently causing his death, Mosby prosecuted all six of the officers involved in the name of “criminal justice reform.”
The result was chaos, with looting and burning and protests becoming so violent that Hogan declared a state of emergency, established a curfew and deployed the Maryland National Guard. The U.S. Department of Justice later dropped the charges against the six Baltimore officers involved.
Mosby’s announcement comes just a few days after Philadelphia similarly instructed its law enforcement officers to temporarily stop making arrests for certain nonviolent crimes.
Under the new guidelines, those who would normally be arrested for drug offenses, theft and prostitution, would be held only temporarily, unless an “officer believes that releasing an offender would pose a threat to public safety,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Our mission is to protect and promote the health and safety of our officers and the community we serve to the best of our ability, while continuing to discharge every aspect of our core duties,” Philadelphia Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement.
Given the high crime rates in Baltimore, some are skeptical that Mosby’s directives will help.
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young had to beg residents to stop shooting each other so the city’s hospital beds could be solely devoted to coronavirus patients.
“I want to reiterate how completely unacceptable the level of violence is that we have seen recently,” Young said on Tuesday after seven people were shot. “We will not stand for mass shootings and an increase in crime.”
He urged people to put down their guns because “we cannot clog up our hospitals and their beds with people that are being shot senselessly because we’re going to need those beds for people infected with the coronavirus. And it could be your mother, your grandmother or one of your relatives. So take that into consideration.”
“For those of you who want to continue to shoot and kill people of this city, we’re not going to tolerate it,” Young continued, according to CBS-13. “We’re going to come after you and we’re going to get you.”