Opening Publisher Note

The number says it all. 335. The number of homicides in Baltimore in 2020. The number of non-fatal shootings was even greater.  But once they happen most cases are forgotten and disappear within the fog of the city’s criminal justice system.

Starting today Baltimore Witness will work to change that. 

We are a new site dedicated to bringing transparency to the Baltimore City criminal justice system, making sure that each life changed by violent crime is remembered.

Equally important is lifting the curtain that has hidden the workings of the city’s criminal justice system, from the police to the State’s Attorney to the court system. 

We will do this in two ways.

First, we will track every homicide and non-fatal shooting from act to judicial resolution attending every hearing of every case and reporting those in the daily stories section of this website. Recently there has been criticism of crime reporting for not serving the community and hyping just the salacious stories. We agree – so we cover every story and every case equally. We do not believe we get to decide whose life is worthy of covering. 

Second, we will gather all the public data available and then verify it and enhance it by sitting in those hearings. Much of this data will be accessible to readers of the site through our interactive map and data playground that will take shape over the next few weeks.  Other data will be shared with researchers and civic groups and Baltimore authorities so that meaningful, data-driven, criminal justice reforms can be devised on the foundation of reliable, independent data.

Mayor Scott’s administration has proposed a number of measures to try to reduce violent crime. We applaud any efforts but the key to any success is going to be accurate data on which to base a plan and then measure its effectiveness. We are nonpartisan and non-advocacy, and look forward to providing just that data. 

Today marks the soft launch of Baltimore Witness. There have been no trials to report on or gather data from for over a year. We are in court today and will be from now on.  Please bear with us.  it will take at least a month for us to be running at full stride.. 

But we are here for the long haul and we look forward to serving this great city for many years. 

Amos Gelb