Profile No. 36

DISARM, U.S. Attorney's Office -- Baltimore, MD

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Program of focused prosecution strategies; High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; and U.S. Attorney's Office.

Program Goal:
To identify repeat felons with UCR Part 1 offenses who are arrested while in possession of a gun and target them for Federal prosecution.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Repeat violent offenders.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Prince Georges County.

Evaluated by:
Internal data collection.

Contact Information:
Martin Clarke
Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
101 West Lombard Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 410­209­4840

Years of Operation:
DISARM targets gun-related violence in Maryland by seeking Federal prosecution for individuals arrested while in possession of a gun who have a substantial record of convictions for violent crime or drug trafficking. In Federal court, these felons face up to life imprisonment and mandatory minimums for gun possession, including a minimum sentence of 15 years for gun possession associated with three prior felonies.

The program began as a cooperative effort of the U.S. Attorney's Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF); the Baltimore City Police; and the State's Attorney's Office. It has been expanded to include Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince Georges Counties and all parts of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, which now funds it. The program also is available to any jurisdiction in Maryland that contacts the U.S. Attorney's Office. While the DISARM initiative is not linked to Baltimore's Comprehensive Communities Program (CCP) (see profile 1), some of the individuals targeted reside in CCP neighborhoods.

The procedure for authorizing DISARM cases is as follows. Any individual with at least one prior violent crime or narcotics felony conviction who is arrested with a firearm in his or her possession will be considered a DISARM target, although normally a defendant must have two prior qualifying felonies before a Federal prosecution will be authorized. Federal prosecution of a defendant with one prior qualifying felony can be authorized if the police department or State's Attorney's Office believes that special circumstances justify a Federal prosecution. The cases are initially screened by personnel assigned to the ATF's HIDTA program and then referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the State's Attorney's Office for review.

Between May 1994 and June 1998, 173 locally arrested defendants were referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Federal prosecution. Those convicted received an average sentence of 8.3 years without the possibility of parole. In contrast, a defendant prosecuted in State court for handgun possession faces a maximum of 3 years' incarceration, subject to parole, and defendants often simply receive probation. The cumulative criminal histories of the convicted DISARM defendants include 1,158 prior arrests and 395 prior convictions.

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