Baltimore gun offenders serving longer sentences

May 29, 2012|By Tricia Bishop

The average prison time doled out to Baltimore’s felony gun offenders doubled in 2011 to more than five years in state institutions from 32 months in 2009, according to MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blake, who released new crime data Tuesday.

Federally indicted gun cases were also up 16 percent during the two-year period, and non-fatal shootings were down by the same percentage, her office said.

“These results are a product of a smart enforcement strategy focused on violent offenders and illegal guns, strong partnerships with communities and state and federal criminal justice agencies, and strategic legislative advocacy,” Rawlings-Blake, who took office in February 2010, said in a statement.

Reducing gun crime and increasing associated penalties has been a focus of her administration. She commended Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, who took office in January 2011, and his staff for their “increased focus on getting illegal guns, and criminals who use them, off the streets.”

In a statement, Bernstein said gun cases are a priority for his office. "We clearly have more work to do, but we are headed in the right direction, as the data demonstrate,” he said.

The increase in prison time for felony gun offenders is the result of Baltimore judges giving longer average sentences — 118 months last year — and suspending less of the term, according to city data.

Three years ago, those convicted of felony gun crimes received 91 month prison terms, though most of it, 65 percent, was suspended, leaving just 32 months of actual time. Last year, the difference left 63 months to serve.

Federal indictments for gun crimes have been rising fairly steadily over the past few years. In 2011, 239 offenders were prosecuted in U.S. District Court, up from 224 in 2010 and 206 in 2009, data show.

Rawlings-Blake called Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein a “great partner” for working with city law enforcement.

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