One Year Later: Baltimore’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Reports On The City’s Troubled Criminal Justice System

January 2001 / Abell Reports / Criminal Justice and Addiction

Problems remain, but there is good news: reforms are working to dispose of drug possession cases quickly.

Calls for reform of Baltimore City’s court system began in January, 1999, when newspapers reported that two men accused of robbing a supermarket and carjacking a family of five were let go because prosecutors and judges could not bring them to trial on time. In that same period, a judge dismissed a murder charge because a case had been delayed for three years. An incensed community demanded reform.

Many looked at Baltimore’s criminal justice system and called it broken. In response to concerns—by the city and state governments, the legal community, and the public — the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council was created, with John Lewin as project coordinator. The Council was charged with identifying systemic problems and making recommendations on how the problems might be solved. In carrying out its responsibility, the Council prepared a study, including recommendations, and presented the report in October of that same year, 1999. One year later the Council reports its views of the past year’s progress in the reform effort, and addresses areas it sees yet to be resolved.

It makes five recommendations for moving forward.