Legislators Seek Temporary Fix to Bail Reform

With just over two weeks left in session a workgroup of senators, delegates and members of Governor Martin O’Malley’s staff met Friday to negotiate short-term measures to fix Maryland’s bail dilemma. The workgroup has been unable to decide upon which bandage to use. As reported in The Washington Post:

Most members agree Maryland should test Sen. Brian Frosh’s proposal in one or two counties. Frosh, D-Montgomery, wants to hire pretrial workers who would use a formula to determine whether each person is jailed or incarcerated upon arrest.

The objective would be to pinpoint the defendants who pose risk of committing more crimes or skipping court, and to release everyone else without requiring bond payment. The formula is based on a vast amount of data from previous criminal cases.

The approach championed by Senator Frosh presents a more radical change to the current process than the alternatives championed by other members of the legislature. At the other end of the spectrum are conservative approaches that tweak rather than completely reform the current system.  According to The Washington Post:

One alternative is to restructure the current system. Instead of an immediate bail hearing in front of a court employee, followed by a bail review in front of a judge, the state could bundle these into a single hearing before a judge.

Another is to give defendants a choice between an immediate hearing with no defense lawyer or waiting in jail until a judge and defense lawyer are available.

[Senator Joseph] Getty said the workgroup is stuck on this question.

There is no date by which the workgroup is set to come to a resolution. The article quotes Senator Bobby Zirkin as stating the group is “‘not anywhere close to a compromise”, while Delegate Kathleen Dumias believes a proposal could be developed by the end of this week.

For more information read the full article in The Washington Post and previous coverage on Conduit Street


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