When 14-year-old Marilyn Mosby opened the front door of her home in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, the image of her cousin’s dead body lying in the street would change her life.
The honor student,17, was shot in broad daylight by another 17-year-old black male after being mistaken for the neighborhood drug dealer.
“That was my introduction to the criminal justice system,” Mosby said. “This was a defining moment for me. When my cousin was murdered, if it had not been for a neighbor who cooperated with police, and testified in court, my family wouldn’t have received any sort of justice.”
As the officers involved with the death of Freddie Gray continue to go on trial, Mosby, Maryland’s State Attorney, continues her goal to change the distrust citizens have for their criminal justice system, despite the backlash she has faced for charging the officers.
“Here I am at 14-years-old, observing the system and saying, ‘How could we have gotten to this young man before he elected to pick up a gun and kill someone,’” Mosby said. “At this critical point in our nation’s history, cities are boiling over with frustration because people are so distrustful of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Therefore, as a prosecutor, it is incumbent on me to break down those barriers of distrust.”
Mosby’s administration centers itself on educating the public on the criminal justice process by working closely with the Baltimore Police Department. In addition, her office hosts “Community Court Day,” where the courthouse invites the public to come and learn about community issues and their role in the road to justice.
“This has never been done before in Baltimore, but it’s a priority for my administration because I am serious about restoring faith in the justice system,” Mosby, the country’s youngest state attorney prosecutor, said.
She’s also established a relationship with the business community in order to target the relationship between communities in poverty and crime.
The average annual income for a caucasian family is double that of an African American home and the unemployment rate of black males between the ages of 20 to 24 is twice that of white males.
“We need to address the economic disparities in our communities, and its direct impact on crime,” she said.
Under her administration, the the Crime Control and Prevention Unit has been established to address these issues and to tackle the distrust between the community and the legal system. One of the several initiatives implemented by the unit is the Aim to B‐More program.
The program, put into practice as of May 2015, allows its members to go through a probationary period where they learn life skills through job training and community service. At the completion of the program, they’re felony record is wiped clean and they are awarded with a benefit-offering job.
“It is only through programs such as this that we will really address the societal ills of poverty and crime,” Mosby said.
She has also restructured the Victim/Witness Services Unit and has raised money for the Crime Victims Emergency Fund, that helps victims, who are struggling financially due to crime, in an effort to make victims and witnesses of crime feel supported during the process.
“In order for us to realize significant change in our communities, people have to be willing to come forward and help law enforcement get these violent offenders off our streets,” Mosby, who lives in West Baltimore, said.
The Mosby administration aims to create a fair justice system for all, despite differences in qualities such as age, gender, job and race.
“As young people, we need to utilize this moment and make it into a movement, to address some of the structural, socioeconomic, and systemic issues that plague our communities, not just in Baltimore, but all across the country,” she said.