Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has just declared that the “war on drug users” is over, and that her office will not be prosecuting low-level crimes like drug possession and prostitution any longer.
This policy had been put in place temporarily last year to reduce the population in city jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, however, Mosby made the policy permanent.
“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,” Mosby said in an official press release.
She added that her office will no longer prosecute drug and drug paraphernalia possession, prostitution, trespassing, minor traffic offense, open container violations, and urinating and defecating in public.
Both Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison supported her decision to make this policy permanent.
“Reimagining public safety in Baltimore requires innovation and collaborative effort. I applaud State’s Attorney Mosby’s Office for working with partners to stem violence in Baltimore and ensure residents have the adequate support services they deserve,” said Scott, with Harrison adding, “The Baltimore Police Department continues to work collaboratively with the State’s Attorney Office to focus on violent crimes and reducing violence in our city. We will continue to be responsive to the public safety needs of our residents and hold violent criminals accountable.”
Senator Robert Cassilly (R-MD), however, told CNN affiliate WBFF that while he supports prosecutorial judgment, Mosby’s decision is closer to making the law rather than enforcing it.
“Prosecutors take an oath to uphold the constitution in the state of Maryland and the constitution says the general assembly sets the policy, not the prosecutors,” Cassilly said. “I respect the whole prosecutorial discretion. That’s not prosecutorial discretion, that’s an exercise in legislating. That’s what the legislature is supposed to do.”
In explaining what she is doing, Mosby also said the state’s attorney’s office is also working with the Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore Crisis Response Inc. (BCRI), a crisis center dealing with mental health and substance abuse issue, to offer services instead of arresting individuals committing these lesser offenses.
“Rather than arrest and prosecution, BCRI will connect individuals with services in areas such as mental health, housing, and substance use,” her press release stated.