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Concerns over bail model reflect misinformation

Wednesday - 4/16/2014, 2:20pm  ET

Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The governor has said he may invite counties to rework their bail systems and try out a data-based risk assessment tool.

Gov. Martin O'Malley said this would involve an executive order. It would solve the problem of compliance with a Court of Appeals ruling requiring legal representation at all bail hearings. Legislators failed to agree on a solution during this year's session.

Lawmakers have sometimes argued the tool would turn critical decisions over to machines and could advance racial injustice by accounting for prior arrests. But a review of similar tools used in other states suggests these concerns are based on misconceptions.

A version Maryland may implement is simply a mathematical formula, developed through scientific research but not necessarily dependent on computers. It accounts for prior convictions but not arrests.

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