Justice from a machine? [Letter]

Replacing the current pre-trial release system is going to be a bear ("Getting out of jail free," March 26).

Today, District Court commissioners set most bails. But since the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that defendants are entitled to be represented by counsel at those hearings, state legislators have been trying to get around the requirement by proposing that pre-trial release investigators use a computerized assessment tool to determine if a person is eligible for release.

That sounds to me like a lot of commissioners will be looking for new jobs. But what happens when the computer lets a defendant loose who goes and commits a violent crime or kills somebody? Whose head should roll then?

Will the public be screaming to pull the plugs on the computers? How about firing the programmers? Or the manufacturer? Replace the software?

Accountability and blame, no matter how real or imagined, will be gone. And it will make everyone, especially the victims, go crazy.

R. Donadio Jr., Baltimore

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