BLACK CAUCUS AGAINST BAIL BOND BILL: In what could be a devastating blow to bail bondsmen, Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus voted overwhelmingly Thursday to oppose legislation that would partially restore the role of cash bail in pretrial release, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. The caucus voted 31-5 to oppose a bill favored by the bail bond industry — and approved by the state Senate — that would overrule the Court of Appeals’ instruction in February that court commissioners and judges consider other forms of pretrial release before resorting to cash bail.
The vote was a victory for progressives focused on criminal-justice reform and a blow to the powerful bail bond industry, which has pressured the caucus and the General Assembly to pass legislation overturning the court rule. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that without support from the Black Caucus, which wields strong influence in the House, its chances of passing appear slim.
Caucus members voiced concern that SB 983 would perpetuate a pretrial system that disproportionately harms low-income minorities who are often too poor to pay even modest bail and must remain in jail. Rejecting the bill, now before a House committee, would enable the Judiciary’s rule limiting the use of bail to go into effect July 1, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.