The Maryland Judiciary recently released a report detailing the impact of changes to the pretrial release
rules. The rule change was intended to prioritize conditions of release and reduce the courts’ reliance on
cash bails. The report shows that the rule significantly reduced the use of cash-bail by 67% and increased the number of people being released on their own recognizance by 25%. The data also shows a staggering 266% increase in people being held without bail. Judges have the discretion to set the conditions of release based on “the least onerous” condition that ensures the defendant shows up to court.
I think by adding community service (such as city clean-up efforts) as a low-risk pre-trial release option we can ensure that non-violent offenders who are eligible for a bail are not held due to their inability to pay a cash-bail. The addition would be a form of probation where the defendant is expected to report to their duty assigned on scheduled days or run the risk of violating the terms of their probation. This measure would help reduce the number of defendants being held without bail while reducing the courts’ dependence on cash-bails.