Senator Shank Talks Pretrial Commission

Since established by executive order in May, the Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System has met in full twice and broken into subgroups to look more closely at using risk assessment tools, improving the pretrial system, and preserving individual rights.

As reported in The Herald Mail, Washington County Senator Christopher B. Shank, who serves on the Commission, shared his thoughts on the Commission and what he hopes it will accomplish:

The commission has met twice, and Shank said he doesn’t feel its intent is to totally transform the system of district court commissioners.

Instead, Shank said, the intent is to use data to decide who is at risk of absconding or committing a new crime if released.

“What I hope we get out of this task force is to recognize that risk assessment (assessing risk based on static factors) works best when it is informing a judicial or executive decision-making process, not replacing it,” Shank said.

But using such a statistical tool to decide who should or shouldn’t be released might not serve a purpose if those released from jail are arrested again in a matter of weeks, Shank said.

“What they really need is treatment (for addiction issues). … Otherwise there is a good chance that they will be coming back,” Shank said. “I don’t see where risk assessment does you a whole lot of good if you are not going to couple it with services when you cut someone loose.”

The state’s current system is subjective, and this judgment call needs to be informed with science-based decision making, Shank said.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Governor convened the Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System for the purpose of bringing together experts and interested parties to comprehensively examine the State’s pretrial system and to provide recommendations for reform.  The Commission must report on their findings by December 1, 2014.

For more information read the full article in The Herald Mail.