Commission Releases Report on Maryland’s Pretrial System

The Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System has released its report and 14 recommendations to improve the State’s system. As reported in The Daily Record:

The call to eliminate bail was the most controversial of the 23-member panel’s recommendations to the General Assembly for improving how Maryland’s justice system treats arrested criminal suspects prior to trial.

In its 77-page report, the panel also recommended dismantling the Judiciary’s attorney-representation program, which started July 1, and instead have the Maryland public defender’s office provide counsel at the 177,000 initial bail hearings annually before district-court commissioners.

Maryland Public Defender Paul B. DeWolfe, who served on the governor’s commission, said his office has expertise in representing indigent criminal defendants at every stage of the judicial process.

The panel also urged the General Assembly to allow various jurisdictions to test a computerized risk assessment program to assist District Court commissioners in deciding whether to release or remand to custody a defendant before trial. The computer program should be used to assist — but not replace — the commissioners in determining at initial bail hearings if a defendant would be a threat to public safety or unlikely to show up for trial if released, the panel said.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Governor convened the Commission for the purpose of bringing together experts and interested parties to comprehensively examine the State’s pretrial system and to provide recommendations for reform. As stated in the report’s executive summary, the Commission met five times since it was created and the three subcommittees—Managing Public Safety through Risk-Based Decision Making; Pretrial System Improvement; and Individual Rights and Collateral Consequences—met an additional five times.

For more information read the Commission report and full article in The Daily Record.

To learn more about county Corrections issues, attend MACo’s Winter Conference where a session will be held entitled, “10 Things You Don’t Know About Running a County Jail.”

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.