New citation initiative aims to connect individuals to needed resources while creating a culture of accountability
Baltimore, Md. (June 1, 2023) - Today, State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Sheriff Sam Cogen, and Commissioner Michael S. Harrison announced the launch of a new citation initiative to address quality-of-life offenses in Baltimore. The aim is to change the culture of accountability and improve safety in the City. This citation initiative is only for the adult jurisdiction, and individuals must be 18 years or older to qualify; the Department of Juvenile Services will still handle juvenile offenses. In collaboration, Baltimore Police Department (BPD) will begin issuing citations for quality-of-life crimes on Monday, June 12, 2023, and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City (BCSAO) will hold the first citation dockets the week of July 17, 2023, in the respective district courthouses.
“As State’s Attorney, my top mandate is to hold offenders accountable to improve public safety. This new citation initiative will help us to do that by making it easier for law enforcement to hold offenders accountable and ensuring residents can receive the resources and support services they need to thrive and put their lives on a better path,” said State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates. “This new initiative is about fundamentally changing attitudes and creating personal responsibility so minor offenses don’t lead to more severe crimes. Across our great city, residents have clamored for a return to accountability in Baltimore, and this initiative is the first step to getting us there.”
For a comprehensive list of offenses that officers in Baltimore will begin issuing citations for on Monday, June 12, 2023, click here.
“This new citation initiative, coordinated by State’s Attorney Ivan Bates and the Baltimore Police Department, is redefining the way our city approaches quality-of-life offenses,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “With this initiative, the State’s Attorney is moving away from arrests and towards a citation approach that allows for options like community service. Ultimately, the hope is that this approach will help to shift us away from the history of brutal criminalization that has been tied to the enforcement of low-level offenses while not letting these quality-of-life concerns go unaddressed.”
Individuals who receive a citation from a law enforcement officer will receive an initial court date listed at the bottom of the citation. This court date will serve as an arraignment date where the defendant will be arraigned and given a 30 - 45 day trial date. The defendants will also be advised to report immediately to the Commissioner’s Office after the arraignment to be qualified for Office of the Public Defender services before the trial date. At the arraignment date, the BCSAO will offer eligible defendants an opportunity to complete community service instead of prosecution pending the trial date. The BCSAO will refer defendants to wrap-around services as needed. Participation in wrap-around services is entirely voluntary for defendants. If the defendants accept the offer to complete community service and complete the hours by the trial date, the BCSAO will Nolle Prosequi the case. If the defendants do not accept the offer or fail to complete their community service hours, the State will proceed with the case in the normal course on the trial date. Additionally, a representative from the Community Services Office will be present to sign up individuals for community service at the arraignment.
“Addressing quality-of-life crimes by issuing citations or offering alternatives to arrests will improve the quality-of-life and public safety concerns for our residents and visitors,” said Commissioner Michael S. Harrison. “This will not be about mass incarceration or aggressive policing. It is about ensuring swift consequences to those offenders who carry out these types of crimes while also taking a holistic approach in providing individuals with necessary services and resources.”
To be eligible for community service alternatives, the defendants must (A) have no pending charges for a crime of violence or handgun offense, (B) not currently be on probation for parole for a crime of violence, and (C) have no outstanding warrants. There is no requirement that defendants be Baltimore City residents. Eligible defendants will be offered community service and a referral to wrap-around services for a first offense. They will be offered increased community service and another referral to wrap-around services for a second offense. There will be no alternative provided for a third offense. Dirt bike offenses will be referred to B-360, which uses STEM education, community engagement, and career preparation to equip individuals with the skills to secure educational and career opportunities. Possession with intent to distribute marijuana offenses and controlled dangerous substance possession offenses will be referred to job training and employment readiness programs through our service partners.
"The Sheriff’s Office is more involved in public safety and will be addressing quality-of-life crimes,” said Baltimore City Sheriff Sam Cogen. “The States Attorney’s Office has already provided training to the Sheriff’s Office on the issuance of citations, and deputies are ready to begin writing violations. We want to thank State's Attorney Ivan Bates for implementing a measured and common-sense response to hold lawbreakers accountable, and we look forward to this continued partnership."
The BCSAO has partnered with several organizations willing to provide defendants with vocational, educational, and life-skills training, drug treatment, and mental health services. Some organizations include B-360 mentioned above, as well as the District Court Re-Entry Project, the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, and Baltimore Community Mediation Center. Defendants may also be referred to Drug Treatment Court or Mental Health Court when appropriate and if the defendant meets the program's eligibility criteria.
“B-360's Diversion Program provides an exit ramp to deter dirt bike arrests and non-violent offenses, which not only improves long-term community safety and reduces arrests but also proves to be cost-efficient and effective; we have seen a decrease in street riders, a decrease in recidivism and an increase in employment,” said Brittany Young, founder of B-360. “We have a 100% success rate for diversion participants that has led to employment beyond our organization; participants are securing jobs in manufacturing, mechanics, and education once completing programming. We stand by our mission to disrupt the prison pipeline, decrease poverty, and build bridges in the community. We are proud of the partnership with the State's Attorney's Office, and we look forward to expanding our commitment to serving Baltimore.”
For information on the citation docket, including the 2023 schedule, qualifying offenses, and frequently asked questions, click here.