In 2008, Baltimore had the highest percentage of its population incarcerated in jails, when compared with other major cities in the United States. 90% of these individuals had not been found guilty of a crime and instead were awaiting court dates according to the Daily Record. These numbers are startling and not lost on the Justice Policy Institute.
The JPI issued a report this week to the city of Baltimore, making several recommendations to help curb the city’s propensity for jailing. The overuse of pretrial incarceration is not only said to negatively impact those that are awaiting court dates behind bars but also costs taxpayers millions every year.
The reason for Baltimore’s numbers is multiple. Judges here are less likely to release non-violent offenders on bail, the police are quicker to make arrests on non-violent offenses, and the probation system is more likely to lock up probationers for minor violations when compared with other communities across the country.
Other big cities, like NYC, will issue a citation with a court date for offenses like disorderly conduct, shoplifting, driving on a suspended license, and public intoxication. If you are caught doing any of these in Baltimore, however, there’s a good chance you will go to jail.
Another issue, bail, is seen as a promise to return to future court dates. Because judges here seem more reluctant to release non-violent offenders on bail, more sit in the jails waiting for court. High bails also disproportionately affect the poor, allowing those with more money to get out pending court.
The report from the DC based Justice Policy Institute makes some recommendations to assist Baltimore including creating community support mechanisms like treatment and employment assistance, citing non-violent misdemeanants rather than jailing them, and reducing the amounts of bail required in criminal cases.
Bail is used to keep the community safe. A judge sets your bail amount depending on how much of a risk he/she thinks you are to flee from future court dates. If you are seen as a risk to the public, you might not be granted bail at all.
Something called an “OR bond” is granted when the judge sees little risk in releasing you. OR stands for being released on your “own recognizance”. In these situations, no payment is required, only your promise to return.
While the facts about your case play a big role in your chances of being granted bail at all, much less an OR bond, as your defense attorney I may be able to help. If you are facing criminal charge and are curious about bail and your potential penalties, contact me today.