What happens to all those defendants charged with minor offenses? The zero-tolerance police will arrest them and bring them to the CBIC courtroom before a judge. A lot of them will be back on the street, conceivably within 24 hours. Which begs the question: Was there any point to arresting them to begin with?
If they have drug problems -- and the majority of them do -- they ought to get treatment. Which is where this discussion always goes.
Talk to anyone who's informed about Baltimore's criminal justice system, or about the current flap over the posting of a judge in the O'Malley Court 24-7, or about the unseemly sniping between the mayor and the judiciary, peel away all the arguments and the various proposals, and you have this: A drug culture, the cancer afflicting thousands, related in every way imaginable to crimes minor and major, from prostitution to robbery, from shoplifting to homicide.
No bureaucratic remedy -- what the mayor proposes, what the judges agree to, what's in place, whatever -- is going to have any lasting effect unless there's professional, sustained and comprehensive treatment for the thousands of drug addicts, like the ones I saw yesterday, who keep bopping through justice's revolving door.