Today Baltimore's port is a shadow of its past, the city's population has been declining for
decades and its notorious crime rate contributes to its economic hardships and racial disparity

America's presidential candidates have all but ignored violent crime as an issue in this election, so Inside USA has decided to do it for them.

This week, we travel to the city of Baltimore to tell the stories of some of the people living there.

Baltimore was once America's third largest city, and second largest port.

Today, the port is a shadow of its former self, industry has fled, and the population has been declining for decades.

Economic hardship and racial disparity are major factors in Baltimore's notorious crime statistics: nearly 300 murders a year, linked to a deadly heroin trade that fuels hundreds of deaths by overdose.

The murder rate is nearly seven times the US national rate - making Baltimore more deadly than Bogota.

Last year Baltimore was the second most dangerous city in the US with a population of more than 500,000.

Inside USA lifts the lid on the problems the city is facing, and hears from a cross-section of Baltimore citizens trying to make the city a better place to live.

Donnie Andrews was released from prison two years ago. A former drug kingpin and convicted murderer, he is now spending his time trying to negotiate a truce between warring gangs.

He had been one of Baltimore's most notorious criminals - parts of Donnie's story have been immortalised. One of the main characters in the hit TV show, The Wire, is based on him - Omar Little.

We also speak to the police, who admit that Baltimore's streets are like a warzone.

But no matter how dangerous and deadly the streets get, we found many of the city's people rising to the challenge with fresh ideas about the best way to tackle Baltimore's problems.

This episode of Inside USA will broadcast from Saturday, March 29, 2008 at the following times GMT:

Saturday: 01:30, 11:30, 23:30, Sunday: 06:30, 19:00, Monday: 07:00


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