Bail Issues Raised In High-Profile Baltimore Case

A recent high-profile case in Baltimore City has raised issues relating to bail and the State’s pretrial system. As editorialized in the Baltimore Sun:

The scenario underscores why a recommendation submitted last month to legislative leaders proposing that the state’s asset-based bail system be “completely eliminated” should be given swift and thorough consideration. Whether defendants are incarcerated before trial should be based on the likelihood they’ll return to court and won’t harm the public rather than on their ability to afford release.

“The use of financial conditions at the bail decision is obsolete, and even dangerous, because financial conditions are not based on risk,” the Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System concluded in its final report.

It’s unclear where Gov.-elect Larry Hogan stands on this issue, but Maryland’s new Attorney General Brian E. Frosh should be a proponent. As a legislator, he led an effort in the Senate last year to revamp Maryland’s pretrial release program as the state was trying to figure out how to begin providing attorneys for thousands of indigent defendants at bail hearings.

The editorial makes note of recommendations made in a report released in December by the Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System. 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.

For more information read the full editorial in the Baltimore Sun.