Observations from September 2020

Baltimore Courtwatch

September 2020 Report

In September, Baltimore Courtwatch observed 297 Bail Reviews.

Of those 297, 

  • 40% (119) were granted home detention
  • 40% (120) were held in no bail status
  • 7% (21) were released to pretrial supervision
  • 6% (18) were released on personal recognizance
  • 5% (14) were postponed
  • 1% (4) were released with a cash bail

Items of note heard in Bail Reviews:

BALT will stop paying home detention fees starting Nov. 1, 2020

  • Defense lawyers clarified the only other alternative was to go back to jail. Defense attorneys asked for clarification on how  to do this without added penalty to their clients. No clarification was provided.
  • Defense attorneys pointed to the illegal two-tier system in place: those with money can stay out of the COVID hotspot of jail. Those in poverty must incur the risks of being held in pretrial jail.

On September 18, 2020 Baltimore Police Department stopped the use of plainclothes units and unmarked cars. Known members of those units were no longer listed in case search for arrests made after September 9, 2020.

An ASA mentioned one detective (Deontae Duck) by name as having “credibility issues.” That detective remains listed in multiple cases after that date.

COVID patients in pretrial posture in Central Booking are being shuttled between multiple facilities. 

  • A condemned building that is part of the Baltimore jail complex is being used to house some of them. 
  • In that facility, the individuals have their clothes removed and are left in their underwear, while suffering COVID. 
  • There is no medical service being provided pretrial except “emergency medical care.”
  • Doctors from the various jails have been adding their names to petitions to have individuals released due to the extreme concern over conditions and care. 

Judges have repeatedly scolded the Baltimore SAO office for not providing statement of charges to either judges or defense attorneys. They continued to regularly not provide that information.

Judges have repeatedly warned Baltimore SAO attorneys for mentioning a wide variety of interactions with police that did not result in convictions, including nolle pros cases, cases placed on stet docket, juvenile dockets for people older than 25, and nonexistent cases.

Of the cases heard, the longest adult held with no trial has been held pretrial since March 5, 2019. 

Juveniles have typically been held as long or longer due to delay in transfer hearings.

Juveniles in jails are not being offered anything but emergency services, including medical, mental health, or education. 


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