Task Force Suggests Eliminating Bail System

In the wake of an impactful court decision, the General Assembly’s special task Force empaneled to review options within the system for bail review has recommended the state abandon the familiar system for bail money reviews as part of early processing for the accused. From coverage in the Baltimore Sun (limited free views available):

In recommendations released this week, task force members said the state should scrap the system under which poor defendants often remain in jail while more affluent suspects can post bond and get out.

The members urged that Maryland replace the system, which is derived from English common law, with one that detains defendants only if they are found to be a flight risk or danger to the community.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen, chair of the panel that made the recommendation, said its members hope Maryland takes a “bold stand” in favor of “systemic change” that reduces unnecessary incarceration before trial. She also said such an overhaul would save taxpayers money and improve public safety.

The major fiscal effect of the recent court ruling has triggered attention from state and local officials. From previous coverage of the issue on Conduit Street:

The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled the right of counsel at bail hearings is a right guaranteed by the Declaration of Rights under the Maryland Constitution. This ruling has potentially serious budgetary implications for both the state (who funds the Office of the Public Defender) but also for county governments, who support the budgets of the State’s Attorneys and local correctional centers. While the costs entailed by this ruling are still uncertain, most estimates are well into the tens of millions of dollars.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties