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Pretrial Pilot Program to Launch in Baltimore County


(TOWSON, MARYLAND, November 30, 2017) –Baltimore County Circuit and District Courts will launch a pilot pretrial supervision program on Monday, December 4.  “It is our belief that this pilot will help us maintain public safety while decreasing the number of people who are in jail before trial,” said Kathleen Gallogly Cox, Fourth Circuit Administrative Judge (Baltimore and Harford counties).

Over the past several months, judges in Baltimore County Circuit and District Courts met with representatives from the Baltimore County Detention Center, State’s Attorney’s Office, and Office of the Public Defender to monitor the changes in the detention and pretrial supervision populations, and to consider program reforms following changes to Maryland’s pretrial release rule (Rule 4-216), which took effect July 1, 2017.  The rule promotes the least stringent conditions of release before trial.

“If someone is really dangerous, it makes sense to hold them in jail without bail.  On the other hand, if they do not present a threat to public safety and are likely to show up for trial, ordering them released on their own recognizance may be the right decision,” said Judge Cox.  “It is the cases in between that would benefit from the varying levels of supervision in pretrial services programs.”

Since courts throughout the state are examining strategies to address changes in pretrial release decisions, the Baltimore County work group developed a risk assessment instrument for use in bail review hearings.  Through the pilot program, judges in Baltimore County Circuit and District Courts will have access to defendants’ risk assessment scores at each initial bail hearing.  For individuals recommended for release with supervision, options include requiring periodic phone check-ins, periodic in-person check-ins, drug testing, and referrals with monitoring for services, such as drug or mental health counseling, or home detention with monitoring.

“We have worked closely with our justice partners to create this pilot,” said Dorothy Jean Wilson, District 8 Administrative Judge (Baltimore County).  “We think this approach can help us determine who poses a risk to our community’s safety and determine the appropriate conditions of release for defendants while their cases are pending.”

The Baltimore County work group will monitor data from the pilot program over the next several months to test the effectiveness of the risk assessment instrument and the pretrial supervision programs.  Additionally, the work group will examine recidivism pending trial, failure-to-appear rates, and impact on the detention center population.


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