Frosh to ask judiciary to change money bail system

The state’s top lawyer will ask Maryland’s judiciary to adopt a rule to ensure defendants are not kept in jail only because they can’t afford bail.

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh told The Baltimore Sun Monday that he will ask the judiciary’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to embrace his conclusion that Maryland’s long-standing money bail system is unconstitutional.

Frosh reached that determination in a letter of advice sent to five state delegates who had asked for his opinion on the practice. Advocates for criminal justice reform contend that thousands of Marylanders languish in jail because they can’t afford bail, often after being charged with relatively minor offenses.

The attorney general, a Democrat, said he understands that he’s asking the committee to scrap a system that judges are used to and has been in place for many years.

“It’s not as if the changes that we’re recommending are so wrenching that people can’t figure out how to run the system,” Frosh said.

The panel Frosh will ask to consider the change is a little-known but influential group of 24 members, including judges, other lawyers, a court administrator and a court clerk. The group develops the regulations that govern court procedures throughout Maryland.

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