In an attempt to ease prison occupancy amid a pandemic, a Baltimore prosecutor has a proactive approach. Prosecutors have closed a handful of warrants and dismissed many cases related to minor offenses, including cannabis possession. This will slow down the rate of infection within the prison system.
Types of Low-Level Offenses
Three months ago, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby suggested prosecutors drop various low-level offenses. These offenses include drug possession, attempted drug distribution, traffic offenses, prostitution, and public urination. Mosby suggested this as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19 within the prison system.
“Unfortunately, we became aware that people were still being arrested due to open warrants for failing to appear in court on an offense the office no longer intended to prosecute,” Mosby’s office said in a press release. “As prosecutors, we are committed to protecting the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community. We are not prosecuting certain offenses, so logically we do not want people to be held on warrants associated with those offenses,”
So far, Baltimore prosecutors have eliminated a total of 586 open warrants. Additionally, dozens of open cases regarding these crimes will be permanently closed. Those affected by this measure will be notified via mail. However, if you believe you may qualify to be included in this measure, there are ways to verify it online.
“We encourage everyone who is concerned about an outstanding warrant for these minor offenses to go to this website and see if their case has been dealt with,” Mosby said.
This measure won’t last long though. Mosby reassured conservatives that this policy will be revised and reconsidered once the global pandemic is over. Unfortunately, the United States is in the midst of the second part of the first wave. In other words, it’s unknown how long the virus is going to last in America.
A Small Step Forward
This isn’t the Mosby’s first attempt to create drug reform during her time in the position. Last year, the State Attorney announced Baltimore will no longer prosecute for minor cannabis possession charges. Additionally, Mosby also cleared hundreds of cannabis-related convictions dating back to 2011.
“We need to get serious about prioritizing what actually makes us safe, and no one who is serious about public safety can honestly say that spending resources to jail people for marijuana use is a smart way to use our limited time and money,” said Mosby in a press release.
Although Mosby continues to introduce forward-thinking measures that will help the community of Baltimore, there is still a long way to go. The state is still struggling to fully legalize cannabis for adult use. Back in 2012, the state decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less. Five years later, the first medical marijuana program opened. Since then, very little has been successful.
Mosby’s efforts continue to push Baltimore towards the path of legalization. Currently, her main focus is on the health and safety of the public during a pandemic. Not only will this new measure help limit the spread of the virus, but it will also begin more conversations regarding cannabis legalization.
“COVID-19 in jails is still a major public health threat, and we want to slow the number of people entering the criminal justice system,” said Mosby. “As we have shown in the three months since introducing our new policies, we can balance public health and public safety and this work continues along that path.”