The Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. (MCVRC) is concerned that the Prince George’s State’s Attorney’s new policy prohibiting prosecutors from recommending cash bail for defendants in any case could result in policies that threaten the safety of victims of crime.
MCVRC has long considered the prosecutor’s recommendations as helpful in striking a balance between every person’s right to be considered innocent and the victim’s right to expect safety and protection from a charged criminal defendant.
The new policy erodes public confidence that the Assistant State’s Attorneys in previous administrations properly distinguished between defendants who were a threat to society and those who posed no threat to society, or a particular victim. Moreover, we fear that the new policy may force judges to make decisions about bail without the considered contribution of prosecutors, including their knowledge about publicly undisclosed ongoing related investigations or any undisclosed cooperators who would be put in danger. The results of this one-size-fits-all policy could also lead to draconian results wherein defendants are incarcerated who would otherwise be released on money bail, or defendants are released who have many prior convictions, no fixed address, no job, or community ties and would otherwise be incarcerated to ensure attendance at trial. Neither of these results furthers the victim’s demand for justice. By requiring Prosecutor’s to essentially absent themselves from bail determinations, this policy inflexibly places a straight-jacket on the appropriate individualized exercise of prosecutorial discretion and undermines the very credibility of the judicial system.
MCVRC’s more than 35 years of advocating for the protection of victims and victim’s rights in Maryland counsels that we treat this new “No Cash Bail Policy” with caution. Fortunately, as community partners with the State’s Attorney Office, we look forward to working with the State’s Attorney Office to develop a more nuanced implementation of a policy that effectively considers the interests of all Marylanders, including victims of crime.