By Gassoh Goba

I commend Marilyn Mosby and her office for taking the humane approach in the face of this pandemic and advocating for the human rights of some criminalized and incarcerated peoples. Such times have made apparent what many of us know, that our correctional facilities are inhumane and certain crimes pose no public safety threat to our communities. 

As a volunteer for SWOP Baltimore, I have provided harm reduction materials for people selling sex or using drugs and advocated for their human rights for the last 4 years. Supporting our neighbors does not mean arresting or prosecuting them for struggling to survive in a city that has no living wage, an opioid crisis, a violent police force and a history of redlining. Those of us who are advocating for the human and civil rights of criminalized and incarcerated peoples need leaders like Marilyn Mosby to use her political currency and urge her colleagues to put humanity first; we need Mosby to urge leaders like Police Commissioner Michael Harrison to put humanity first – not just now but forever and commit to preventing harm in Baltimore City so our communities can thrive.

Mosby and her office have taken responsible and compassionate steps during this state of emergency but they must continue taking bold steps in the future because criminalized and incarcerated peoples lives are in constant states of emergency. Facing violence from the criminal justice system is a state of emergency and we must be in solidarity with those who are most impacted as we continue to build a Baltimore City that puts humanity first and invests in approaches that emphasize connection and healing, not separation and violence. Our leaders have a unique opportunity to examine the inequities this pandemic has exposed and find solutions that place human and civil rights first – they must take it!