In the year after Baltimore’s new coordinated approach to gun prosecutions was started, federal prosecutors charged almost 20 percent more people with firearms-related crimes, reports the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore’s local prosecutor reported a slight increase in city gun prosecutions over the same period. The two offices said they have been able to process cases faster and win longer prison sentences for those convicted of gun-related crimes.
Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said the local version of the Project Exile program had a goal “to reduce violent crime, not just to fill up federal prisons.” Last year, there were 275 homicide victims in Baltimore, five more than in 2005. The first 24 days of this year have produced 24 killings. Under Project Exile, federal prosecutors threaten that if a defendant does not plead guilty in state court to a mandatory five-year prison term, the case will be transferred to federal court, where the penalties could be harsher and the prison time served farther away from home. While violent crime might have decreased slightly overall last year, shootings, burglaries, and robberies increased. Said Rosenstein: “We have not yet succeeded in achieving less crime. But it is way too early to suggest that we have wasted our time and failed.” He said a significant reduction in violent crime could take years to accomplish.