The Baltimore State’s attorney has ordered pending criminal charges against anyone being held in police custody for drug possession dismissed in an effort to fight the spread of coronavirus and avoid an outbreak in the city’s jail system.
Marilyn Mosby said in a note to prosecutors on Wednesday (March 18) that those arrested for holding drugs, attempted drug distribution, prostitution, trespassing, minor traffic offenses, open alcohol containers and public urination would have charges dropped because they pose no threat to public safety and would have been released prior to trial under normal circumstances, according to The Baltimore Sun.
“An outbreak in prison or jails could potentially be catastrophic,” Mosby wrote. “Now is not the time for a piecemeal approach where we go into court and argue one one by one for the release of at-risk individuals."
Many people who have cases that would be dropped are not currently behind bars, the Sun reported.
Mosby also wrote a letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan urging him to free all state prisoners over age 60, any inmate approved for parole and also those scheduled to complete their sentences within the next year. The prisoners, she said, should be released under supervision.
Advocacy groups and public defenders lobbied Mosby to make the requests to hinder the virus from spreading through jails and prisons.
There are currently 42 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Maryland, including 13 in Baltimore County, the Sun reported.
Photo Credit: Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images