The particular criminologist in this case is David Kennedy. You may remember his failed "crime plans" from the 1980's or his study in 1997 which came to the stunning and revolutionary conclusion that "criminals commit crimes". Thats right, it took a few years of study for this expert criminologist to find out that most violent crime in Baltimore is committed by a core group of 4,000 criminals. Groundbreaking, really. I was under the impression that crime was a product of each and every Baltimore citizen performing at least one crime a year.
There are some positive aspects to the program, but they are afterthoughts, not central points. Drug treatment and community involvement is mentioned. Quality of life arrests are no longer the focus, and arrests without charges are down.
However, the Mayor's plan in no way addresses the root of the violence in Baltimore City, in exorbitant profits that can be made in the illegal drug trade. Because of this, criminals are organized, powerful, and their ranks are CONSISTENTLY REPLENISHED. Programs to dissuade young men from joining gangs or slinging will be grossly ineffective as long as much of the city remains in poverty and the drug trade is so easily accessible and so very profitable.
Gangs are responsible for many of the killings recently in the city. And of course, this program apparently will "target gangs". But will it really? This program does nothing to address the root of gang violence in Baltimore City, the illegal drug trade. I mean, these gangs make money somehow, and I have a feeling most of it is coming from selling heroin, as well as other drugs.
Of course the solution then, seems to be to target heroin dealers, and shut them down. I would argue that stopping the flow of illegal drugs into America, therefore, into Baltimore, therefore into Park Heights, while preserving civil liberties at all levels is completely impossible. A joke, really.
Instead of presenting more of the same the City, the Mayor could do the right thing (political suicide or not). She could send a letter, along with community activists and city police, to the Governor and the Legislature, to the Congress and the President. In this letter, she must admit the complete impossibility of continuing the federally and state mandated Drug War to a successful conclusion. Dixon could join with the Mayor's of every major US city, all of which are gripped with drug related violence.
She should ask the congress and the President to consider revisiting our drug laws, and re-writing them in a way that allows for the removal of the profit motive from the illegal drug trade. This could be done in numerous ways, from the creation of monopolized market, to the wholesale legalization of controlled substances. The key must be to REMOVE THE PROFIT MOTIVE from illegal sale. IMO, I think it would be unjust to reintroduce that profit motive into the legal market for things such as heroin, cocaine, or meth. For this reason, the creation of a monopolized narcotics, cocaine, and methamphetamine market would be ideal. Addicts need to be able to get their fix in a safe, non-violence encouraging environment. Treatment is also important, but ending the violence relies on removing the illegal profit motive and nothing else.
There is NOTHING that would end the violence faster than the removal of the profit motive from the illegal drug trade, short of a comprehensive and effective plan to revitalize the urban poor in our cities. Poverty is a great contributor to violence, and the reason that poor urban areas become such havens for drug activity.
Drug legalization cannot be a replacement for a war on poverty. Poverty has played a major part in this cycle, and must be addressed.
Still, I cannot hold my tongue when the people of Baltimore are being fed the same line, over and over on crime prevention. Don't get me wrong, I am completely aware that the ideas prescribed here are well outside of the mainstream, and not likely to be proposed by anyone interested in having a political career in most of America in the next 15 years.
So when it comes to crime fighting plans in Baltimore City, we can expect more of the same for some time to come. I will assume that those who disagree with me on drug legalization will herald this as a good thing. I must remind them that the murders will not stop either, or be reduced considerably for a long time. That doesn't sit well with me, and it shouldn't sit well with Baltimore politicians who continue to rely on tactics that do not work.
Update:To be clear, GANG ACTIVITY IS A DIRECT OUTGROWTH OF THE ILLEGAL NARCTOTICS TRADE. Eliminate this trade, you eliminate the reason for these gangs' existence.
Sgt. Ted Friel runs a four-officer gang intelligence unit in the Eastern District, the first such mini-unit in the city. Other districts have begun to create their own.
"For the most part, the existing drug territories and the gang stuff goes hand in hand," Friel said. "The drug organizations have become the gangs."
Update 2:While reading the article I posted in the update, it is clear that the Drug Trade is more than a get rich quick scheme. For many, it is a conscious career choice. Gangs in Baltimore are highly organized in their recruitment, much like a powerful corporation. They seek employees in likely areas, prison blocks and blighted city blogs, places where hopelessness is all around. Those who join are set for life, and are expected to remain for that period of time. Drug dealing for gang members is a career, living. Older gang members see their gangs as community organizations.
Don't be naive. These groups are most likely funneling money into the coffers of Maryland and Baltimore politicians. What intelligent and successful multi-million dollar local business wouldn't be doing so?