During their final meeting, the Governor’s Commission to Reform the Pretrial System voted on which remaining proposed subcommittee recommendations to include in the commission’s report to the Governor.
Votes were made to recommend changes to the structure of the system; to pilot the implementation of a validated risk assessment tool; and to improve on the collection and sharing of data.
A proposal concerning monetary bail bonds came to a debate with the commission ultimately voting to recommend ending bail bonds. As reported on WBAL.com:
The exact language of the recommendation has not yet been finalized, according to the committee’s chairman Richard Karceski, an attorney. But the committee agreed that commercial bonds should be eliminated, and replaced with a set of pre-trial conditions based on the nature of the defendant’s alleged crime and his or her criminal history.
“The suggestion is that a commissioner or judge not set a dollar amount bail, but set conditions of release that would incorporate a person released from confinement but with several or many, or sometimes no conditions based on someone’s record and the nature of the crime,” Karceski said. “It’d either be a release with conditions or no release. There wouldn’t be a release on a money bail.”
As reported in The Daily Record the commission also voted to recommend that the current bail bond system be monitored.
The commission, recognizing that the legislature likely will not abolish bail, also approved a milder recommendation calling on lawmakers to monitor cash bail and its associated impact “to determine if changes need to be developed and implemented.”
Another commission member, Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said the latter recommendation will be better received in the General Assembly.
The commission previously voted to recommend that the Office of Public Defender, not the Judiciary, be responsible for providing attorneys at initial appearances. Additionally the commission voted to recommend the creation of statewide pretrial services as well as earlier and enhanced prosecutorial screenings.
The commission must submit a final report its recommendations to the Governor by December 1, 2014.
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.