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Bill to require pre-trial release notifications in Baltimore City

Mayor Brandon Scott testifies in front of Judicial Committee
Posted at 3:33 PM, Feb 23, 2022

ANNAPOLOIS, Md. — Mayor Brandon Scott made his way to the halls of the state Capitol today to testify at an in-person committee meeting, asking for members to pass a bill that he says could help reduce violence in his city.

An amended version of Senate Bill 586 requires coordination between the Division of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Baltimore Police Department, in the notification of anyone released pre-trial.

In a press conference ahead of the Judicial Proceedings meeting, Mayor Scott said, "in our comprehensive violence prevention plan we set out goals to improve coordination between courts, prosecutors and law enforcement and Senate Bill 586 will be a great support to preventing these senseless acts of violence and bring this coordination to reality."

There were concerns brought forward by several lawmakers on the committee.

Many of these worries (and supporters' responses) were summed up in an exchange between two Baltimore City Senators, Senator Jill Carter a member of the panel and Senator Cory McCray, the author of the bill.

"We're including every single person in the City arrested for anything?" she asks.

"Yes," comes the response from Senator McCray.

"So, we are, not-withstanding the fact that every single person, arrested for anything, is cloaked in a presumption of innocence, there is now some kind of presumption that they need to be watched or surveilled in some way? Even if it's not for a violent offense and even if they're actually innocent." Carter counters.

She adds that, if a person is released pre-trial, a judge has made the determination that it is safe for the person to be released.

McCray responds, "I just want to be clear that it is not surveilling or tracking," and argues that this is important for Baltimore City to know about these releases, because they are the only jurisdiction that doesn't get this information already.

The state runs Baltimore City's jails, instead of the local police department or sheriff's office, as it is in other counties.

McCray added that the point of this bill is to focus on "the most heinous crimes," however, the amendment to the bill takes out the list of specific crimes this notification would be limited too.

Carter later asks, "how does this help police to know why a person has been released?"

McCray responds that police right now don't even know that a person has been released pre-trial.

If the bill passes as amended, it would require jails to notify BPD within 48 hours if a person has been released pre-trial. The amendment text is not yet available on the MGA website.