Sixteen juveniles have been murdered in Baltimore within the first six months of this year, the Baltimore Sun reported on Thursday. Last year the number at the half year mark was nine and the year before it was eight, only half the number for this year. Nonfatal shootings of juveniles, however, have dropped from 60 to 39. Eighty percent of homicides in Baltimore are linked to the illicit, unregulated drug trade, according to the Baltimore Police Department.

A study by the city health commissioner, Dr. Peter Beilenson, revealed detailed demographics about 34 recent juvenile homicide victims. All were African-American, and the average victim was a 16-year old, arrested for the first time at the age of 12 ½ years, with a total of five arrests.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley plans to put pressure on juvenile probation officers and mentoring services to increase activity and is discontent with the city's schools' inability to track truancy, the Sun reported. The BPD said that more killings are being done at point-blank range, indicating targeted killings linked to the open-air drug trade that is so widespread in Baltimore.

The total number of homicides in Baltimore for this year came to 139 people as of Thursday, a dismaying figure considering O'Malley's goal of drastically reducing murders to 175 this year. This puts the city on track to easily top 250 murders by the end of the year.

The Drug Enforcement Administration claims that Baltimore leads the nation in heroin use and having one of the most severe crack cocaine problems in the United States. DEA also estimates (perhaps dubiously) that 10% of Baltimore's 600,000 residents are addicted to drugs. Baltimore's problems have recently been publicized nationally through the books and mini-series "The Corner" and "Homicide: Life on the Streets," along with the current HBO series "Wired."

Baltimore has also invested in drug treatment programs, and Beilenson considers it one of the best investments the city has made. A study of 1,000 patients found treatment to have reduced criminal activity in participants by 64%, cocaine use by 48% and heroin use by 69%, one year after treatment, and also found a $200 increase in monthly income and reduced injection drug use. The city is pushing for funds that would allow it to offer treatment to 8,400 people, a 15% increase from current capacity.

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Issue #246, 7/19/02 Editorial: Times Change | Dutch Government Plans to Restrict Coffeeshops, End Ecstasy Harm Reduction | Nevada Marijuana Amendment Draws Flack, Praise | Canadian Justice Minister Floats Decrim Trial Balloon, Takes Flack from All Sides | Barcelona Conference Hears Link Between AIDS and Injection Drug Use -- Clinton Regrets Not Lifting Ban, Bush to Keep It | New York Marijuana Reform Party in Petition Drive to Win Ballot Status | "We're Your Good Neighbors. We Smoke Pot" -- Jeff and Tracy One Year Later | Alert: DEA Moves to Schedule 2C-T-7 | Newsbrief: Cow Dung Sniffers Have Malaysian Authorities Confounded | Newsbrief: Baltimore Homicides Continue, More Juveniles Dying Than Before | Newsbrief: Noelle Bush Imprisoned | Media Scan: Time Magazine on The Philippines, Drug Testing Protest Video Highlights | The Reformer's Calendar

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