In 2016, the Baltimore Police Department did a data dive on people involved in shootings in the city — victims as well as the suspected shooters — and the BPD found this: 

Among suspects, 76%  had prior criminal records, 62% percent had prior drug arrests, 52% had been arrested for violent crimes, and 41% percent had been arrested for gun crimes. 

Nearly 90 percent of the victims had a prior criminal record. Of those, 80% had a prior drug arrest; 61% had been arrested for a violent crime; and half had a prior gun charge. The average victim had been arrested 13 times.

I’m sure this does not surprise you. But it’s the main reason that, for about 15 years now, I have been writing about the need for two things:

Reform of the taxpayer-funded prison system into a rehabilitation system — intensive counseling and education while inmates are incarcerated to better prepare them for their eventual return to society, so they do not continue their criminality.

Focused deterrence of the relatively small number of repeat offenders who commit most of the violent crime in Baltimore and other cities. Intervene, challenge, offer help — break the cycle of crime.

Both ideas are about intervention — getting to inmates while they are in prison, getting to those who are most likely to commit new crimes — to change the course of their lives. 

Mayor Brandon Scott’s new crime prevention plan addresses both, but it’s his idea for an intervention among inmates before their release that I highlight in my Sunday Sun column, available at baltimoresun.com It’s a good idea whose time came like 40 years ago. Better late than never. I certainly hope Scott’s staff follows through and makes it happen.

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