Baltimore No-Prosecution Policy for Drug Possession Wins Kudos

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In a 14-month study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University measured Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s policy to quit prosecuting drug possession and prostitution, finding no increase in citizen complaints or greater threat to public safety, reports the Baltimore Sun. Hopkins researchers found she dropped charges against 741 people. Six of those people, less than 1 percent, were rearrested for violent crimes such as robbery and assault.

Mosby has defended her policy by arguing the prosecution of low-level, nonviolent crimes such as drug possession, open containers and prostitution has disproportionately and harmfully affected minority neighborhoods in Baltimore. 70 percent of Maryland’s prison population was Black in 2018 — double the national average. Researchers estimate her policy averted about 440 arrests for drug and paraphernalia possession and that almost 80 percent of those arrests would have fallen on Baltimore’s Black population. They also counted nearly 4,000 drug-related 911 calls a month before the policy. Afterward, the number of drug-related 911 calls fell by 37 percent to about 2,500. And they counted 167 calls a month to 911 about prostitution before the policy. That figure has declined by about five calls a month. However, researchers also wrote 911 calls may have declined because citizens knew those crimes wouldn’t be prosecuted rather because there was a reduction in community concern.

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