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by Peter Moskos

December 12, 2015

"A small glimpse into the lazy, egotistical, dysfunctional world of key players in criminal justice system"

Page Croyder spent two decades with the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office. A few weeks ago I discovered her blog (thanks to a comment). The prosecutor's office -- the State's Attorney in Maryland -- and the court system in general is a big Skinner box of unknown for most people. Croyder offers insight.

People get arrested and somehow they end up in jail or prison. Even if the courts have the power, the prosecutors may be the puppet masters of the system. They shape police behavior and tactics. They determine who walks and who doesn't. And all this in an elected underfunded office not represented by any union. The courts have no constituency to fight for dollars. Most people don't really care what happens in the courts as long as they don't get called for jury duty.

Croyder was never the most prolific blogger, which makes it all the more readable as small glimpse, "a small glimpse into the lazy, egotistical, dysfunctional world of key players in criminal justice system."

I assume Croyder is to the right of me politically. Or maybe not. She's no fan of O'Malley, but then, who is?
Funny thing is, if liberals read my blog with open minds they would see that I am no Attila-the-Hun. I support improved prisoner re-entry programs, bail reform, effective alternatives to incarceration, a radically new approach to drug crimes, reducing the barrier of criminal records to employment, and so forth.

But I do believe that there are people who need to be locked up for the public's safety and well-being. Not forever (for most), but until the period of their greatest dangerousness passes. This makes liberals scream. They want more rehabilitation and prevention programs.

Fine. There's no conflict there. But the existing criminal justice system still needs to improve its focus, prioritization and performance right now with the resources at hand.
I see her writing as refreshingly untainted by ideology.

Here are some highlights in chronological order. From 2012:
And the city doesn't need such quick turnover. Having four different police commissioners in the O'Malley mayoral years wrecked the Police Department. We need stability... to conceive a plan, develop it, and achieve significant results with violent criminals over the past six and a half years.

We had plenty of stability at the top of the prosecutor's office before Bernstein [under Jessemy], but insufficient competence. Now we've got competence. Add stability, and we achieve long term success.
From 2013:
The problem between police officers and judges over warrants has been going on a long time and should have been resolved ages ago.
Baltimore city judges are supposed to take turns being "on duty" for one week at a time. Since there are about 60 of them, this means they should have this duty less frequently than once a year....

But judges and police have fussed about this ever since I can remember. Judges feel that police bother them after hours for non-emergencies.
To minimize their own inconvenience, individual judges often make their own rules for reviewing warrants. Many, for example, refuse to sign any "narcotics" warrants after hours, which they regard as routine.
To me the solution is simple: police officers should do their best to present their warrants during reasonable hours, while judges should resign themselves to the fact that for one week out of every 60 they will be reviewing warrants after they leave the courthouse. They should just go home and be mentally prepared for the police to come over, not whining about officers interrupting them while they are out at dinner or the mall.
From 2014:
Marilyn Mosby, who just defeated Bernstein in the primary election, lacks the experience to fully comprehend the enormity of the task in front of her, let alone be able to hit the ground running. And the state's attorney's office will hemorrhage experienced people these next six lame-duck months, making the task that much harder. It doesn't mean that Mosby, should she win in November, can't eventually succeed. But her learning curve will be very steep and at public expense.
That's some foreshadowing.

Next post I'll highlight Crowder's take on the current prosecutions related to Freddie Gray.

1 comment:

Adam said...

That 2013 post about the Vila trial was great. I lost a lot of respect for the Bernstein administration after that asinine prosecution.