Restoring the public’s trust in the criminal justice system, getting violent, repeat offenders off of Baltimore’s streets and being visible in the community are among Marilyn Mosby’s top objectives as Baltimore’s State’s Attorney.
Mosby, a civil litigator who previously served for several years as a Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorney, talked to the Greater Baltimore Committee about her new job as the city’s top prosecutor two weeks before her inauguration.
She will be sworn in at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 8 at the War Memorial in Baltimore.
Motivation for running to be the State’s Attorney
Mosby said her desire to rid Baltimore’s streets of violent, repeat offenders prompted her to run for public office.
“What’s driving the perception of our city are a small number of individuals who are wreaking havoc in our communities and time and time again keep getting off,” she said. “They’re the ones that I referred to in my campaign as violent, repeat offenders. That’s why I decided to run. As a prosecutor living in the heart of West Baltimore, raising two little girls, enough is enough. I said it’s time to step up and to do something and make sure we’re drawing those connections to get these violent, repeat offenders off our streets.”
Mission as State’s Attorney
As Mosby outlined her mission and priorities as State’s Attorney, she continually mentioned targeting repeat offenders and addressing a culture of distrust.
“My vision and my top priority are getting these violent, repeat offenders off our streets,” Mosby said. “It’s about realizing the potential of our city and if they’re the ones driving the perception, those are the individuals we should be going after. Our city is so much more than what’s depicted.”
As Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Mosby plans to work to gain the public’s trust.
“People are distrustful of the criminal justice system and sometimes rightfully so,” she said. “But if that is your biggest barrier to getting those horrible guys off the street, it’s up to me as the administrator of the criminal justice system to be able to break down those barriers of distrust. That means getting engaged, getting involved, being a part of the community. I have got to rebuild that rapport, that trust for the criminal justice system.”
She also vowed to have a strong presence in the community.
“It’s getting to young people before they get to the criminal justice system, getting involved, getting engaged, going into schools, exposing young people to the criminal justice profession as opposed to the system,” Mosby said. “That means I’m visibly engaged, a part of the community. That means when my prosecutors go before them (community members), they believe that Marilyn Mosby’s administration is about justice and not just convictions and that is the duty of a prosecutor – to see justice and not convictions.”
Mosby highlighted the importance of bolstering the city’s victim and witness services.
“It’s additional resources, better protecting them,” she said. “That’s where my focus is going to be.”
Communication, transparency and her leadership style
Mosby said her priorities will be reflected in her organizational structure.
“That trust has to be restored because that’s the only thing preventing us from realizing the potential of our city,” she said. “It will be reflected in my plans, in my organizational structure and in my team.”
Mosby, who described herself as an engaging and inclusive leader, stressed that her basic message point is “justice fairly and equally – with or without a badge.”
Everyone – from the business community to the faith community to law enforcement and her office – has a stake in the safety of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, she said.
“It’s going to take all of us to get out here and transform our communities,” Mosby said.
Relationship with the Baltimore business community
Mosby cited several initiatives she plans to implement that will require a government-business partnership.
One initiative is “Back on Track,” a federal program launched in 2005 by San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.
The program is for first-time, non-violent felony offenders, Mosby said. During a probationary period the offenders perform community service and receive life and job training skills. At the conclusion of the probationary period they receive jobs – with benefits.
Mosby noted that implementing the program in Baltimore would require her to partner with the business community.
“Young people make mistakes but recognizing that once they’ve completed and successfully graduated from this program their felony records would be wiped clean,” she said. “By implementing programs like this, what it does is to allow you to utilize the courts for the violent, repeat offenders who are wreaking havoc.”
“The business community looks forward to working with Marilyn Mosby and her administration,” said GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry. “We all share a common goal of making Baltimore a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
Challenges and opportunities
While Mosby faces challenges, she said there are also great opportunities ahead.
“You’re going to have to overcome that distrust which is going to take time,” she said. “Trust is something that you earn, not something that’s just given to you. What I’m optimistic about is that people want change … so I think people are going to give me the benefit of the doubt.”