Earlier last week Ivan Bates was sworn in as the new state’s attorney in Baltimore City. His first change announced in the office that was headed by Marilyn Mosby was the removal of the policy of his predecessor not to prosecute minor crimes, such as possession of marijuana. and prostitution.
Bates has made it clear that prosecuting these types of cases will be discretionary instead of stopping prosecution altogether. We agree with this fair way of prosecuting even seemingly minor crimes in the city.
While we applaud Bates for this change in his office, we encourage him to maintain two units that Mosby made so important: the Sentencing Review Unit and the Conviction Integrity Unit.
The Sentencing Review Unit is considering whether the State Attorney’s Office should support the release of the inmate or a commutation of his sentence. The group considers many factors, including the length of the prison sentence, the age of the person at the time of the crime, the needs of the victim, the facts of the case, any mitigating circumstances, the behavior of the accused while in prison, the possibility of re-offending – Crime, and the presence of re-entry for the accused.
If, after reviewing these guidelines, the panel believes that the sentence should be commuted, the panel and defense counsel will be assigned to the seeking a modification of the defendant’s sentence, which may result in early release or a significantly reduced sentence.
Research has shown that many young people who commit serious crimes “grow out” of criminal behavior and become law-abiding adults. The US Supreme Court recognized this in Roper v. Simmons543 US 551, where the court stated, ”
Recognizing this, the Sentencing Review Unit not only assists in the release of juvenile offenders who have spent most of their lives behind bars, but also assists in re-entry programs to ensure smooth functioning. the changes in the community.
The second program within the State Attorney’s Office that we urge Bates to preserve is the Conviction Integrity Unit. This unit, upon request, will thoroughly investigate a case to determine whether the conviction was wrongful and should be exonerated.
The importance of this unit cannot be overstated, especially given the past work of the Gun Trace Task Force, who, among other criminal activities, falsely accused people of crimes that never occurred and falsely arresting people they know did not do it. Crime under investigation.
Not only do we expect Bates to retain these two units but we encourage all state attorneys in Maryland to create similar units in their offices.
Board members Arthur F. Fergenson, Leigh Goodmark, Roland Harris and Susan F. Martielli did not participate in this opinion.
James B. Astrachan, Chairman
James K. Archibald
Gary E. Bair
Andre M. Davis
Arthur F. Ferguson
Julie C. Janofsky
Ericka N. King
Susan F. Martielli
Angela W. Russell
Debra G. Schubert
H. Mark Stichel
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