Follow the money
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.