Counties Propose Amendments to Pretrial Tool Reassessments

On Tuesday, January 21, MACo’s Executive Director Michael Sanderson delivered testimony to both the Senate and House to support with amendments SB 68  Criminal Procedure – Pretrial Release – Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments (Cross Filed with HB 49). 

While counties believe it is important to use evidence-based tools that are effective, efficient, and equitable, this year’s version would still have onerous and unnecessary financial and operational impacts that may unintentionally undermine the ability for county jails to efficiently use a pretrial risk assessment tool.

From MACo Testimony:

The cost for reassessments can reach close to $100,000 if information technology contractors and/or additional staff are needed to generate and analyze the appropriate data and reports. This, paired with the frequency of the bill’s reassessment, would be particularly burdensome and cost-prohibitive to smaller county jails with fewer resources. The cost and frequency could discourage such counties from adopting or continuing to use pretrial risk assessment tools.

To address these concerns, MACo proposes amendments (attached) that would (1) extend the timeline between reassessments to a frame that is reasonable and feasible for effective assessments; and (2) extend, clarify, and prioritize a source of grant funding for the reassessments so as not to impose an unfunded mandate on county jails.

During the hearing in both the House and Senate, the bill sponsors and committee members seemed open to resolving the differences and arriving at a compromise. Both MACo and Prince George;’s County Warden Mary Lou McDonough, representing the Maryland Correctional Administrators Association, offered encouragement toward such an approach.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.