Baltimore County is piloting a program that aims to reduce the number of people held in jail pretrial while maintaining public safety.
The program, which launched in December, includes a risk assessment for judges to consider. The risk assessment score is intended to keep decisions consistent across courtrooms when judges are determining whether to have a defendant released, supervised (e.g. phone or in person check-ins, drug testing, counseling, home detention), or detained. Judges retain discretion to override the recommendation and may do so for instance in the interest of public safety.
The Baltimore Sun reports:
“The purpose of all this is to really provide the court with a very good and serious picture of the defendants in custody,” said Randy Mentzell, management assistant with the county’s Department of Corrections, which oversees pre-trial services. “Our goal is to give the court the best information, the most information so they can make a decision — a good decision.”
The program was developed after months of meetings between stakeholders and review of similar programs in Montgomery and St. Mary’s counties. Data such as pretrial recidivism rates, failure to appears, and jail population will be collected and monitored to determine the effectiveness and impacts of the pilot program.
Read The Baltimore Sun to learn more.