In response to allegations that the bail-bonds industry has illegally bribed Maryland lawmakers, the Coalition for a Safe and Justice Maryland held a press conference in Annapolis today urging legislators not to accept donations from the industry, to return 2017 donations, and to reject any legislation put forward or promoted by the industry. (Read the Sun’s story on the press conference.)
Members of the Coalition urged legislators instead to focus on investing in pretrial services so that the effects of the judicial rule that took effect in July, which requires judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail, can be fully evaluated.
At the press conference, OSI-Baltimore Director Diana Morris announced the release of a new report, Steps in the Right Direction: Maryland Counties Leading the Way on Pretrial Services, which details existing pretrial services programs in Montgomery and St. Mary’s counties and Baltimore City. (Open Society Foundation’s lobbying arm, Open Society Policy Center, is a member of the Coalition.)
In detailing the strategies that each of these three jurisdictions has used for pretrial services–and the outcomes of those strategies–the report demonstrates that there are many ways for local governments to create or expand pretrial services, but that all save money while improving public safety.