BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan met with Baltimore City leaders and others in what is billed as a frank discussion to reduce violence in Baltimore.
The meeting lasted less than an hour Tuesday, but one of the controversies surrounding the meeting is that it was closed to the public and media.
“This wasn’t for political purposes,” Hogan said.
“I would have preferred that this be an open meeting,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “I don’t really think that there was anything that was said up there that hasn’t been said in public somewhere else.”
City Coucilmember Brandon Scott and state Senator Bill Ferguson were turned away from the door.
“We were similarly kicked out of the building. The state building,” Ferguson said. “I’m truly sick to my stomach that this happened.”
Gov. Hogan met with 20 members of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, in private, to discuss what he calls the tragic and disturbing violent crime rate in Baltimore.
“We’re arresting a lot of violent people who commit violent crimes with guns who are not going to jail,” Hogan said previously. “And so, I believe 60 percent of those cases, the people are back on the streets. It’s outrageous. It’s disgraceful.”
The governor has been critical of judges for light sentences for repeat gun offenders, but those judges did not attending the meeting. They wrote a letter to the governor, stating they “shall not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism.”
“We wanted to get their input on why do they think that these same folks are arrested, you know, 11 times or 13 times, and why are they still on the street shooting people? Why are they not getting sentenced? And we wanted input. They refused to come,” Hogan said.
Hogan said he wants criminals to serve sentences they’re given not just a fraction of that time.
“We have sentences that are being handed down that they’re waving. Let’s say it’s a five-year minimum sentence, ‘we’ll give you five years but we’re gonna wave it all and give you probation.’ I believe that’s not acceptable and we keep putting the same exact violent people on the street,” he said.
Mayor Catherine Pugh believes judges should be in attendance.
“I’ve seen a few judges, and they agree with a lot of the things we’re trying to do,” she said. “So I will continue to have my conversations with them to help them recognize the impact that some of their decisions are making on the city. There was camaraderie around the room, in terms of folks willing to work together, but this criminal justice system certainly is not complete without the judges.”
Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Devin Davis is one of the members of the council, and was at the meeting, along with Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
“A lot of these acts of violence are taking place in the broad daylight and people aren’t coming forward,” Mosby said.
The meeting was behind closed doors at the governor’s request, so leaders “can have a robust and frank discussion.”