For immediate release 11/21/2017
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby joined more than 25 current and former prosecutors and law enforcement officials in a new Amicus Brief filed by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) and organized by Fair and Just Prosecution (FJP) challenging the money bill system. Mosby along with other signatories of the brief argue that the City of Calhoun, Georgia’s practice of detaining misdemeanor defendants before trial based solely on their inability to pay money bail “offends the Constitution, undermines confidence in the criminal justice system, impedes prosecutors, and fails to promote safer communities.”
Additional signatories to the brief filed Monday in Maurice Walker v. City of Calhoun, Georgia, a class action suit now pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, include: former Acting Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, along with current District Attorneys Mark Dupree (Kansas City, Kan.), Stanley Garnett (Boulder, Colo.), Mark Gonzalez (Corpus Christi, Texas), Christian Gossett (Winnebago County, Wisc.), David Soares (Albany, N.Y.), Raúl Torrez (Albuquerque, N.M.) and Cyrus Vance (New York County, N.Y.), and Prosecuting Attorney Carol Siemon (Ingham County, Mich.), and former Police Chiefs William Lansdowne (San Diego and Richmond, Calif.) and Brendan Cox (Albany, N.Y.).
FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor and one of the signatories, says: “It is well settled that alternatives to money bail – in place in jurisdictions around the country – are not simply the right approach, but are also a more sensible strategy that keep our communities safe by using individualized determinations of risk of flight and dangerousness.
Monday’s filing continues an ongoing effort to reform the pretrial system, both nationally and locally. During the 2017 Maryland legislative session, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City (SAO) successfully lobbied with partners such as the Job Opportunities Taskforce against SB983/HB1212 which attempted to undo a ruling by the Court of Appeals prohibiting the holding of defendant’s in jail because of their inability to pay bail. Attorney General Brian Frosh also counseled against the enactment of this legislation, which was in line with his 2016 opinion that questioned the constitutionality of keeping prisoners in jail based solely on their ability to afford bail.
Under Mosby’s leadership, the SAO proactively sought after and was awarded $425,000 from the US Department of Justice for the Smart Prosecution Initiative grant which seeks to evaluate and reform pretrial processes across the nation. Baltimore City was one of only four jurisdictions selected nationwide for Fiscal Year 2015. Together, with private research firm, Applied Research Services, current charging procedures used by the SAO’s Charging Division at the Central Booking and Intake Facility are being reviewed and evaluated.
With the help of this grant, the office is developing a risk assessment tool that is specific to the unique needs of Baltimore City for use by prosecutors in the Charging Division when making pre-trial release recommendations. This tool will help identify offenders who are not a public safety risk and therefore eligible for pre-trial release and/or referral to one of the Office’s existing diversion programs such as Aim to B’More, Drug Treatment Court, or Mental Health Court. In turn, the SAO will find additional opportunities for intervention to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.
“Improving the money bail system is an imperative component to criminal justice reform both locally and nationally,” said State’s Attorney Mosby. “As law enforcement officials, we must ensure those who pose a threat to public safety are detained, but we also need to be smart and fair in our approach as it relates to the bail system. Generally, the current money bail system is financially inefficient and discriminates against those who are economically disadvantaged in underserved communities. I am proud to join this dialogue with national criminal justice leaders, as we continue to change the tide on bail practices.”
Please view the full Amicus Brief filed by ICAP here.