Senate approves bail attorneys bill

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Local,Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Senate has approved a bill that would make courts rely on a data formula in determining whether or not to jail people after arrest.

The bill passed 37-9 Monday evening, with one senator abstaining. Several senators have predicted that the bill would face serious opposition in the House of Delegates.

The measure came in response to a Court of Appeals decision that requires Maryland to provide defense lawyers at all bail hearings for indigent defendants. It would help avoid this requirement at the earliest bail stage because a human wouldn't be deciding whether the defendant should be released, under the plan. Instead, it would depend on a risk assessment score accounting for information like criminal history.

A House committee is expected to release an alternative plan this week.

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