Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on Friday that the city of Baltimore would permanently suspend prosecution of prostitution, drug possession, minor traffic offenses, and other so-called "quality of life" crimes.
Mosby had previously announced the policy as a temporary measure that was allegedly designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 among the city's police force and prison population. However, in Friday's press conference, Mosby claimed that the policy had served to lower violent crime in Baltimore, and that it proved that her vision of "criminal justice reform" worked. Thus, the policy would become permanent.
According to NBC News, Mosby claimed during the press conference that since the implementation of the policy, violent crime had declined 20 percent and property crime had declined 36 percent. "Clearly, the data suggest there is no public safety value in prosecuting low-level offenses," Mosby said.
Of course these statistics reflect merely that police have made fewer arrests for these crimes, not that they have not happened. Notably, the city's homicide rate — which is difficult to fudge since homicides are virtually always reported — fell only very slightly from 2019, which was a record-setting year in Baltimore. Additionally, it should be noted that property and drug crimes were reported to have fallen nationwide in 2020, including in places that did not implement such policies, which suggests that the falling rate of those crimes has more to do with the existence of the pandemic (either in terms of reduced police enforcement or reduced criminal activity) than the implementation of any "criminal justice reform program." However, it is true that the nation overall saw a large spike in homicides, aggravated assaults, and gun assaults in 2020, and Baltimore did not.
Mosby, who has been a frequent and public critic of Baltimore police, claimed that the police force was on board with her program, and that they will partner with her in shifting resources to fighting violent crime and drug trafficking. "Our understanding is that the police are going to follow what they've been doing for the past year, which is not arresting people based on the offenses I mentioned." She also claimed that police will work with a local non-profit to help Baltimore residents find help for problems like addiction to drugs and homelessness.
Mosby's husband, Nick Mosby, is president of the Baltimore City Council, and the pair are widely believed to have higher political ambitions. Complicating these ambitions is a federal criminal investigation that has been opened by the United States Attorney's Office into the couple's finances, which is reportedly investigating alleged tax and campaign finance improprieties. The couple has denied wrongdoing, and according to a statement provided by their attorney, the Mosbys "are progressive change agents, making them unfair targets of unnecessary scrutiny by federal investigators."
Mosby faced questions about the investigation during her press conference, but according to NBC News, she refused to answer those questions, preferring instead to discuss her new policies.