Governor supports community court plan Misdemeanor cases would be heard at city site

January 16, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

A Baltimore City court designed to sentence defendants charged with misdemeanors quickly has won the support of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who requested $1.9 million in state money to pay for it.

The Community Court of Baltimore, which would be at the site of the old, four-story National Marine Building at 33 S. Gay St., is expected to open at the end of the year.

The concept is modeled after the Midtown Community Court in New York City, which reduced nuisance crimes and is credited with being one of the initiatives that cleaned up Times Square. Those sentenced in the court usually have to sweep streets or perform other community service work.

The Baltimore community court, which has been in the planning stages since last January, would be run much the same way, said Chuck Porcari, a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Offenders who need treatment or job training would be able to get it at the court.

For those charged with misdemeanors in the city, weeks or months elapse between arrest and sentencing, Porcari said. But in the community court, sentencing -- if any -- would occur the same day as the arrest in as many cases as possible, he said.

"Focusing on the minor crimes like disorderly conduct helps create a sense of order and safety," Townsend said in a statement. "The Community Court gives us an unprecedented opportunity to foster an atmosphere that attracts businesses and families to the central city."

Partners in the project include the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, the Greater Baltimore Committee, the District Court of Maryland and the Baltimore City Police Department.

Pub Date: 1/16/98

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