I was doubly discouraged by the data reported by Professors Doug Colbert and Colin Starger reflecting the unnecessary and unjust over-incarceration of non-violent pre-trial detainees in Baltimore (“Bail injustice in the time of COVID-19,” Sept. 7). Not long ago, as an advisory board member of Open Society Institute-Baltimore, I applauded OSI’s participation in the Coalition for a Safe and Just Maryland as it helped bring about changes in Maryland’s anachronistic and oppressive money bail system. Those changes have been celebrated by many in Maryland and across the country.
Similarly, as vice chair of the attorney general’s COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force, I was pleased by Maryland Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera’s proactive encouragement to the state’s judges that they should consider COVID-19′s life-threatening health risk in issuing her emergency order dealing with pre-trial release determinations. Lives are on the line everyday in the unforgiving confines of jails and prisons during this pandemic.
It is imperative that all stakeholders in the criminal justice system — judges, prosecutors and pre-trial investigators, alike — follow the law, act humanely and respect the presumption of innocence. Nothing short of doing so is remotely acceptable.
Andre M. Davis, Baltimore
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