MACo Urges for Pretrial Services Program Grant Fund Extension

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson today submitted written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee to support HB 126 Public Safety – Pretrial Services Program Grant Fund – Extension and Program Requirements. This bill would prohibit pretrial services programs that receive a grant from charging the defendant who participates in the program a fee, while also extending the end date of this grant program to 2028.

From the MACo Testimony:

Maryland, like many states, has promoted advances in criminal justice – ranging from broad-based sentencing reforms to procedural changes for pretrial defendants in local facilities. The move toward pretrial alternatives to confinement has been productive and positive, in general, and is at its best when aided by an appropriate assessment tool. Maryland has provided state grant funding for jurisdictions advancing these best practices, but that funding is set to expire without an extension.

During prior year legislative hearings, bill sponsors and committee members have expressed concern over local jails and their vendors, in some cases, charging pretrial defendants to help offset costs of their alternative arrangements – typically GPS-style location devices to effect home-based requirements. HB 126 proposes to merge these two related ideas – to extend the beneficial state funding, but to condition access to it upon elimination of such fees. Counties recognize the benefits of finding a suitable disposition to both lingering issues, and support this framework.

HB 126 will extend incentives for county pretrial programs, and further advance fairness and
flexibility for affected defendants. For these reasons, MACo SUPPORTS HB 126 and urges a
FAVORABLE report

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.

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