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Committee approves plan to automate bail system

Tuesday - 3/25/2014, 7:15pm  ET

Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- A plan to automate the risk assessments of criminal defendants is headed to the Senate floor for a vote. A committee has advanced it by a 7-4 vote.

Sen. Brian Frosh, the bill's chief sponsor, helped move it through the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Tuesday afternoon.

It solves the problem of a new state requirement to provide defense attorneys at all bail hearings, which would cost as much as $30 million yearly. In Frosh's plan, the question of whether a person is jailed after arrest will depend on a data equation involving the person's criminal history. Frosh says this will cost $16 million annually.

However, Sen. Bobby Zirkin says he will propose a constitutional amendment Wednesday that would annul the requirement to provide attorneys at bail hearings.

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