Mary­land’s un­con­sti­tu­tional bail re­al­ity

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ODNE - Marc Schindler, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The writer is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Jus­tice Pol­icy In­sti­tute.

Re­cent ac­tion by the state’s ju­di­ciary rules com­mit­tee seeks to ad­dress the fact in Mary­land that pre­trial free­dom is of­ten tied to one’s abil­ity to pay bail, which the state’s at­tor­ney gen­eral has con­cluded is likely un­con­sti­tu­tional (“Wealth shouldn’t de­ter­mine free­dom,” Nov. 21).

The pur­pose of bail is to en­cour­age ap­pear­ance at court dates and en­sure some­one is not a risk to pub­lic safety. How­ever, due to cur­rent prac­tice, peo­ple who are high risk but have the means to pay are re­leased, while low-risk peo­ple with no means to pay are held pre­trial. In essence, if you’re poor the sys­tem works against you. It is un­con­sti­tu­tional for money to buy or deny you free­dom, but that is the cur­rent re­al­ity of the Mary­land bail sys­tem. We­can’t al­low that to con­tinue.

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