Despite a seeming revitalization of several neighborhoods, Baltimore’s homicide rate remains among the nation’s highest, reports the Baltimore Sun. Young black men with lengthy criminal histories – continue to be killed in large numbers by others with similar backgrounds, according to police homicide figures reviewed by The Sun. The number of annual killings but never went down to the 175 that ouotgoing Mayor Martin O’Malley, now Maryland governor-elect, promised would happen by 2002.
Of the city’s 274 victims last year, 82 percent had criminal records – the same as in 2005. David Kennedy of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice said the “fundamentals” of crime in Baltimore have not changed for years. Baltimore uses a “quality of life” strategy modeled after New York City’s efforts, which involved aggressive enforcement of minor infractions to disrupt drug dealers and violent offenders. Critics say the effort has perpetuated a revolving-door justice system, with too many people arrested for minor crimes that don’t result in meaningful punishment. “All of the street action is driven by small groups of extraordinarily active offenders,” said Kennedy. “There’s a framework for addressing this that people have made work all over the country. But Baltimore’s history on this is all too common. Without a really different kind of approach, things don’t change.”