STEPHEN JANIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, TRNN: It was a press conference billed as another sign of change within the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office since Marilyn Mosby took over the reins just five months ago. A gathering at the Center for Urban Families in West Baltimore to discuss a new pilot program called Aim to be More, which will offer job training for people charged with nonviolent drug offenses, a move Mosby says will lessen the toll of the city’s aggressive criminal justice system, and free up her office to focus on the most violent offenders.
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BALTIMORE CITY STATE’S ATTORNEY MARILYN MOSBY: It’s about prioritizing and utilizing the courts, which are inundated. I have to tell you that in the State’s Attorney’s office for Baltimore City we prosecute well over 41,000 misdemeanors in district court, 7,000 misdemeanor jury trials and over 5,000 felonies a year. I would prefer to utilize the inundated courts for the worst of the worst and give our young people a second chance at redemption.
JANIS: But what would be a routine event had entirely different connotations today. That’s because Mosby is no longer just an ambitious local politician. Her decision to indict six officers for the killing of Freddie Gray while in police custody earlier this month thrust her upon a national stage and made her work as a prosecutor fodder for the international media. Since then, criticism has been intense. And today Mosby said she would not discuss details of the case.
MOSBY: I can’t talk – I’m not here, I’m here to talk about Aim to be More.
JANIS: But The Real News Network asked her about the onslaught of criticism that has engulfed the media since the charges were made public, including implications that she rushed to judgment on the officers who lawyers say did nothing wrong. An onslaught she says was not unexpected.
MOSBY: I’m just doing my job. I’m not surprised by anything. I’m not – nothing surprises me at this point.
JANIS: Mosby also defended her decision not to charge people arrested under the curfew imposed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake after rioting broke out in the city earlier this month.
MOSBY: I can tell you from my office’s perspective, all of the curfew violations we have abated by arrest. Any – we are still investigating the other cases. We do intend to hold people accountable for any violent offenses.
JANIS: Meanwhile the subject of jobs for people trapped in the criminal justice system continued to be the theme of the day, so we asked Mosby about a recent decision by the mayor not to fund slots for 3,000 teens who applied for summer jobs but were turned away due to lack of funding. She argued in a city overly reliant on the criminal justice system, jobs should come first.
MOSBY: I do think that we should have more alternatives for our young people, especially in the summer.
JANIS: Stephen Janis reporting for The Real News Network, in Baltimore.