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Prosecutors, Defenders Back Pretrial Release Bill

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(AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice, File)

(AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice, File)

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Top officials in both the prosecutor and public defender offices are supporting a bill that would reduce pretrial release decisions to a formula, based on factors like criminal history.

Besides helping low-income, low-risk defendants, it would help catch people likely to reoffend, said Cherise Burdeen, director of the Pretrial Justice Institute. She testified Tuesday before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Sen. Brian Frosh based the bill on the system in Montgomery County, his home. Burdeen said roughly 10 percent of the country uses similar models.

Under the bill, a computer program would calculate a risk score for person arrested. Those who scored low could be released immediately. The rest would see a judge at the earliest opportunity.

Right now, court commissioners make these initial decisions after meeting the defendants.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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