Briefing Highlights Progress Since Court’s Bail Rule Reform

The Maryland Judiciary briefed general assembly members on the status of implementation of the new pretrial release rules.

Some key findings highlighted in an article in The Baltimore Sun include:

  • 53% of defendants are released from custody by a district court commissioner — up from 44%
  • 20% of defendants are being held without bail by a district court commissioner — up from 7.5%

The Sun article elaborates on explanations from the judiciary panelists and others that testified at the briefing as to the overall success of the rule change and what is driving some of these trends:

Paul B. DeWolfe, the state’s public defender, called the statistics “positive results” and proof that “the rule is doing what it set out to do.” Bail is intended to ensure defendants appear in court, not to be used as a tool to hold them in jail.

Judges testified that the increase in defendants held without bail could be attributed to the fact that judges were no longer setting astronomically high bail to keep defendants deemed to be at high risk of committing another crime or threatening communities off the street. Instead they are just simply holding those individuals without bail.

The hearing stemmed from a 2017 change to the state’s court rules governing the use of bail and pretrial release conditions. The rule change was intended to prevent defendants from being held in jail pretrial simply because they cannot afford bail.

Visit The Baltimore Sun for more information.

Related prior coverage from Conduit Street:

Court of Appeals Unanimously Approves Changes to Bail Rules