Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby apparently is just not that into arresting people for breaking the law.

A year ago, Mosby’s office announced that lawbreakers would no longer be arrested for breaking laws deemed minor in the eyes of Mosby’s office. The policy was designed to reduce the population in prisons during the pandemic. Mosby made the policy permanent in a press release dated March 26th.

The rather bombastic press release included this boast:

“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. We will develop sustainable solutions and allow our public health partners to do their part to address mental health and substance use disorder,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

In other words, if a member of a minority is in prison for an ostensible infraction of the law, it is likely that he or she actually is incarcerated because of race, not the breaking of the law. High incarceration rates of minorities are indeed worth considering and evaluating with an idea to probing for injustices. But simply not bothering with crime is not the answer.

What Ms. Mosby calls a “progressive, common sense approach to crime” means that nobody will face arrest for the following actions:

  • CDS (drug) possession
  • Attempted distribution CDS
  • Paraphernalia possession
  • Prostitution
  • Trespassing  
  • Minor traffic offenses
  • Open container
  • Rogue and vagabond
  • Urinating/defecating in public

What this really means is ignoring some crimes—or in effect, making these crimes legal. Ignoring crimes such as public urination and minor traffic offenses is going to make living in Baltimore more dangerous and unappealing. Rick Moran notes:

Baltimore, already a very unpleasant place to live, is about to get worse. When mayors don’t care about the “quality of life” issues like public urination and prostitution, they invite behaviors that make the city unlivable.

Other localities have experimented with relaxing enforcement of what progressives designate as minor offenses, not worth the bother of enforcing. Such policies inevitably lead to more crime. California, for example, a few years ago decriminalized crimes that did not rise to a certain level.

In the case of shoplifting, if the haul wasn’t at least worth $950, the authorities were instructed to ignore it. Grand theft, writing a bad check, and receiving stolen property—it was all to be ignored below the $950 level. Not surprisingly, offenses of this sort multiplied, making life hard for merchants and law-abiding Californians.

I suspect that Baltimore will see the qualify of life decline even further as a result of Mosby’s making her no-arrest policy permanent. She has an interesting, supposedly statistical, way of showing that the policy has been wildly successful, however. The press release notes:

To examine impact of the policy shift on the public, the SAO [Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office] partnered with researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to analyze the policy and its impact on public safety.

The data showed that 911 calls about drug use, public intoxication and sex work (a proxy for public concern) did not increase following the policy; rather, from March – December 2020, there was a 33% reduction in calls mentioning drugs and a 50% reduction in calls mentioning sex work compared to the prior 2 years. Further, of the nearly 1,500 individuals with quashed warrants or dismissed charges, only 0.4% (5 individuals) were arrested for any other crime during the 8-month period following the policy change. (Results of the study are preliminary and subject to change as the analysis of remaining cases and adjustment for other factors are ongoing.) 

Far be it from me to get in the ring with “experts” from various public health organizations, but couldn’t there be an explanation for these results rather than the success of Mosby’s policy? Isn’t it possible, indeed likely, that that 911 calls about these offenses are down because despairing citizens know nothing will be done about them?

As for the reduction in people with quashed warrants being arrested, couldn’t this figure be at least partly due to the policy of—you know—not arresting people? Just asking.

What is important is that this policy will likely harm people, especially minorities who have less control over where they live, and make their neighborhoods less livable.

Mosby’s policy is justified by lefty verbiage, but I suspect laziness also plays a part in deciding to turn a blind eye to the crimes that make the lives of citizens hell.