For Immediate Release: 12/1/15
The Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City recently received a two-year, $425,000 grant from the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) to evaluate and reform the Office’s pretrial processes. Baltimore City was one of only four jurisdictions selected nationwide for an FY2015 Smart Prosecution Initiative grant.
The competitive grant is part of the USDOJ’s “Smart Suite” of crime fighting programs which includes Smart Policing, Smart Probation, and Smart Pretrial. The Smart Prosecution Initiative, administered by the Bureau of Justice Administration, pairs an operational, results-focused researcher with a prosecutor’s office for the development of data-driven solutions to challenges faced by prosecutors nationwide.
The Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City is partnering with Applied Research Services, Inc. for the two-year program to review and reform the charging procedures used by our staff in Central Booking. Staff from the Office of the State’s Attorney review the case of every offender processed in Central Booking 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2014, staff reviewed over 23,000 cases and made charging recommendations in each.
Together, the Office and Applied Research Services, Inc. will review and evaluate current charging procedures with the goal of developing and implementing evidence-based pre-trial risk and needs assessment protocols. Prosecutors will use these protocols to identify offenders safe for pretrial release and/or referral to one of the Office’s existing diversion programs such as Mental Health Court, 90-day Diversion, Veterans’ Court, Aim to B’More, Drug Treatment Court, and more. The Office, through participation in the Smart Prosecution Initiative, will also work to identify additional opportunities for intervention to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.
If effective, the program will ultimately increase the referral of low-risk offenders to effective diversion programs reducing the size of Baltimore’s detained pre-trial population. The program will also help prosecutors and police to more readily identify high-risk offenders and direct limited resources where they are most needed to protect the public.
Grant funds will be used to pay for Applied Research Services, Inc.’s technical support as well as to hire two, full-time employees to coordinate and manage the project. The Project Coordinator and Database Administrator hired to work on this project will fill critical data and IT needs in the Office.
“We are very honored and excited to be a part of this innovative work in Baltimore. Our experience working on the federally-funded Justice Reinvestment Initiative has taught us that applying research-based and risk-informed decision making at pre-trial can increase efficiency, reduce expenditures, and improve the lives of citizens both inside and outside of the justice system,” said Kevin Baldwin, Senior Researcher with Applied Research Services, Inc.
“As prosecutors we have an obligation to participate in reforming the criminal justice system, these grant funds will allow us to lead that charge and create a system that will benefit the citizens of Baltimore,” said Marilyn J. Mosby, Baltimore City State’s Attorney.
Other recipients of the FY2015 Smart Prosecution Initiative include the San Diego Association of Government and the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office and the King’s County District Attorney’s Office.