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Maryland AG says bail system likely unconstitutional


Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told a panel of Baltimore City representatives in the House of Delegates on Friday that the state’s cash bail system is likely unconstitutional.

His comments, which echo a letter he sent to some House of Delegates members in October, come at a time when the state’s top court is considering prohibiting large bail amounts for defendants who are not considered a flight risk or a danger to the public.

At the Baltimore House delegation meeting on Friday, Frosh stood in firm support of that change.

“We’ve got hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in jail every day because they’re poor, and that’s just not right,” he said.

Between 2011 and 2015, more than 17,000 defendants remained in jail for at least five days with bail set at $5,000 or less, according to a study the Maryland Office of the Public Defender released in November.

Several state lawmakers have said they plan to legislate changes to the bail system. One proposal would prohibit cash bail for defendants charged with non-violent misdemeanors, while another would eliminate cash bail altogether. Others are likely still to come.

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