Andre M. Davis' letter (“Over-incarceration still happening in Maryland,” Sept. 9) reflects the truth that Maryland’s jails are overcrowded with people accused of crimes and awaiting trial. Previous research data from law professors Doug Colbert and Colin Starger had confirmed the overused practice of pre-trial incarceration in Maryland. As criminal defense practitioners, we were happy to see Maryland’s progressive and humane reforms move away from cash bails which only served to free the wealthy and incarcerate the poor. What appeared to represent one step forward, however, now presents itself as two steps backward. Since judges incorrectly believe they are left with fewer options and cannot order cash bonds, they are inclined to hold defendant’s without bond, even for non-violent offenses.
The failure of so many judges to follow the law requiring clear and convincing evidence of “dangerousness” before ordering detention has led to more, not less, people being detained. A law meant to establish a fairer justice system has resulted in the opposite.
Esteban Gergely, Rockville
The writer is chair of the judicial selections committee for the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association.
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