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State Attorney Primary Questions Crime-Fighting In Baltimore

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By Cathy Duchamp

Voters in Baltimore will decide Tuesday, in the city's state's attorney race, if its time to change the way the city fights crime.

Patricia Jessamy has been the city’s top prosecutor for 15 years. She told law students at the University of Baltimore last week she’s running again to continue the progress that’s been made in reducing crime in the city.

"Although our population has declined by 9 percent, violent crime has decreased by 59 percent. I have made getting violent offenders off the streets my priority," says Jessamy.

Top challenger Gregg Bernstein questions that claim. The trial lawyer told law students Jessamy has failed to convict violent offenders who continue to cycle through prison and the courts.

"We need to stop this revolving door and get the most violent people out of everyone’s neighborhoods so that Baltimore is no longer one of the most dangerous cities in America to live," says Bernstein.

Tomorrow’s vote will come down to whether voters think its time for change. That’s hard to predict, says John Willis, University of Baltimore professor and former Maryland secretary of state.

"You really never know when the incumbent has been there too long that a accumulation of decisions may have a target," says Willis.

But Willis does not expect the anti-incumbent tone of national politics to trickle down to a local race for states attorney.

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