Mark Uncapher, is serving as President of the Montgomery County Republican Club. Mark is a long-time party activist who previously served as the Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.
Ending Baltimore’s Murder Plague: Baltimore’s new State’s Attorney Ivan Bates takes encouraging steps
For the eighth consecutive year, Baltimore experienced more than 300 homicides. Last year the city saw 335 lives lost to its tragic plague of violence.[i] Improving the city’s public safety represents a challenge for Baltimore and the state as a whole.
Among the multiple leadership changes Maryland is undergoing, one of the most encouraging is the replacement of Marilyn Mosby with Ivan Bates as Baltimore City State’s Attorney. As he took office, Bates outlined many promising changes from his scandal-tarred predecessor.
Bates wants to reverse Mosby’s non-prosecution of low-level crimes and have his office focus more on enforcing existing laws against illegal guns.[ii] He also wants to hire 20 to 50 new prosecutors, telling WBAL-TV: “I’m going to go to Annapolis to make sure we get the resource. I want to try to hire additional prosecutors.” [iii]
Last year the Maryland Public Policy Institute chronicled the significant breakdown in prosecutions under Marilyn Mosby. MPPI author Sean Kennedy tracked the startling number of Baltimore City homicide defendants who should not have been free to commit their alleged crimes. However, instead of being behind bars, lax sentencing for prior convictions left them free.
The MPPI report, Baltimore’s Preventable Murders, tracked 110 homicide suspects between January 2019 and July 2020. Seventy-seven had been previously convicted of a serious crime by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office since 2015. Of those 77 previously convicted, 61 (79%) faced statutory jail terms that should have kept them in prison beyond the date they committed their alleged homicides.[iv]
“Many of the hundreds of victims died because the killer never faced justice for their previous crimes,” said Kennedy. “The vast majority of Baltimore’s killers are convicted felons, carrying guns, robbing and assaulting residents well before they take a life. We could have cut this year’s grim toll in half if we simply got serious about violent and repeat offenders.”
According to Kennedy: “Because of lax plea agreements negotiated between convicted offenders and prosecutors, sentences often fall far short of the statutory sentencing guidelines for the crimes committed.”
Among 110 suspects in homicides occurring between January 2019 and July 2020:
- 82% had serious criminal convictions prior to the homicide;
- 59% had previously committed a weapons crime or used a firearm in another offense;
- 44% had prior violent crime convictions; and
- 41% had previously violated their probation or parole.
Among those 77 homicide suspects previously convicted of serious crimes since 2015:
- 62% had a conviction for weapons or firearm-involved offense;
- 44% had violent offense convictions; and
- 47% violated probation/parole.
According to Kennedy, these findings may actually undercount the number of homicide suspects in Baltimore City who have prior convictions. Much of the critical data necessary for studying this trend is either unavailable to the public or remains obscured by improper data management.
“The sad truth is, too many killers are free to continue to kill and maim other victims in Baltimore,” said Kennedy. “Not only are arrest rates too low for those who’ve committed homicide, but sentences for other violent offenders — who are likely to commit future homicides — are too often let free early.”
Hopefully, with its new State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, the city’s criminal justice system can now turn a corner and reduce its appalling homicide rate.
Read the full Maryland Public Policy Institute report, Baltimore’s Preventable Murders, https://www.mdpolicy.org/research/detail/baltimores-preventable-murders