Commission to Study Pretrial System Commences

The Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System is underway. The first meeting was held Thursday, June 26 at the Judiciary Education and Conference Center in Annapolis.

The meeting set the foundation for the months to come by beginning with a video presentation “Pretrial Decisions Determine Mostly Everything” by Dr. Marie VanNostrand of Center for Evidence-Based Crime Police at George Mason University and a presentation from Dave Weissert, Coordinator of Commissioner Activity for the District Court on Maryland’s current pretrial process. Mr. Weissert’s presentation thoroughly covered the history of the pretrial system, the role and duties of the court commissioners and the data collected.

The meeting ended with Commission members sharing their thoughts on the discussion question for the day, “what is the one thing you would change about Maryland’s Pretrial System that would have the most positive outcomes for the criminal justice system as a whole?” The question generated discussion of the need for more data and research, establishing consistency and removing bias within the system, and working toward collective consensus on a plan to move forward all while respecting the right to counsel rational of the Richmond decision.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the purpose of the Commission is to bring together experts and interested parties to comprehensively examine the State’s pretrial system and to provide recommendations for reform. The Commission has a number of specific objectives, including:

  • Reviewing the use of pretrial risk assessment tools in other states and municipalities and providing a recommendation for a validated risk assessment tool to be used in Maryland
  • Assisting the state in running a pilot program for the risk assessment tool in one or more counties
  • Examining ways for the state to operate an efficient and equitable pretrial program

In addition to representatives from legislative, judicial and executive offices, membership on the Commission includes representatives of local government, the Maryland Correctional Administrators Association (MCAA), and local law enforcement. A full listing of the appointees may be found within the press release.

For more information, please visit the Commission’s webpage and read previous coverage on Conduit Street.

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