Fol­low the money

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

A new re­port by Com­mon Cause Mary­land de­tailed how the bail bond in­dus­try has thrived in Mary­land on the backs of the poor and peo­ple of color. As the Jan. 26 Metro ar­ti­cle “Re­port: Bail groups gen­er­ous to politi­cians” pointed out, Mary­land ranks third in bail bond cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions, be­hind only Cal­i­for­nia and Florida.

Mary­land’s pre­trial sys­tem is in­ef­fec­tive, is un­fair, wastes tax­payer dol­lars and is in need of se­ri­ous re­form. The sys­tem pri­or­i­tizes money over safety, with peo­ple deemed high-risk able to pur­chase their free­dom be­fore trial while low-risk in­di­vid­u­als — who can least af­ford to miss em­ploy­ment while sit­ting in jail — re­main in­car­cer­ated be­cause they can’t af­ford to post bail.

It is im­por­tant to note that the re­port also showed that the chairs of the two com­mit­tees with ju­ris­dic­tion over bail bond is­sues are among the coun­try’s top three in­di­vid­u­als in terms of amount of dona­tions from the bail bond in­dus­try. As pre­trial jus­tice re­form is con­tin­u­ally thwarted in Mary­land, we should ask how much a bail bond in­dus­try mo­ti­vated by profit is in­flu­enc­ing our jus­tice sys­tem. It’s time pre­trial ser­vices honor the spirit and in­tent of the Mary­land jus­tice sys­tem, im­prov­ing pub­lic safety, and not serve as the blood­line for the bail bond in­dus­try. Marc Schindler, Wash­ing­ton The writer is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of

the Jus­tice Pol­icy In­sti­tute.

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