Bill Spotlight: Bill 2022-05 Community Service and Pretrial Release Program (Charles County, MD)
This week the Charles County Board of County Commissioners heard a presentation on the introduction of Bill 2022-(05) Community Service and Pretrial Release Program, which would establish a community service and pretrial release program in Charles County.
The Charles County Board of County Commissioners introduced this legislation in response to HB1072, Charles County – Community Service and Pretrial Release Programs – Authorization, which Maryland General Assembly passed during the 2021 legislative session. HB1071 authorized the Charles County Board of County Commissioners to create a program similar to what Bill 2022-(05) proposes. It passed unanimously in both chambers, and Maryland Governor Hogan signed it into law on May 30, 2021.
Though not referenced by its name or bill number, much of the language of HB1072 appears in Bill 2022-(05). The provisions of the bill that Charles County residents need to pay the closest attention to appear in § 160-4 through § 160-6. In these sections, the legislation explains what the program does and how it is administered.
§ 160-4 explains who is intended to utilize the program. It notes that a court may order a person to participate in the community service program if the person has been convicted of a criminal offense or received probation before judgment for a criminal offense and is recommended to the court for placement in the program by the program staff. A community service participant may be charged a fee not to exceed $40 for each 8-hour period worked. When a participant completes or fails to complete their community service, the staff are to draft a report sent to the court though Bill 2022-(05) does not specify a time frame for when the report is to be sent.
§ 160-5 and § 160-6 review the pretrial assessment and pretrial supervision. These are two of the most important sections of the legislation as it explains how the court analyzes each case it hears and how one would be supervised once released. A person can participate in the program if they have been charged with a criminal offense, detained, and appear before the court. The Administrator will develop standards and criteria for setting the recommended supervision levels for participants and be validated, evidence-based, and race-neutral. The presentation from the County Attorney noted that supervision in the pretrial release program might include the use of electronic monitoring and drug and alcohol testing executed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Sheriff’s Office. Four different levels of supervision were proposed:
Level 1: biweekly urinalysis only
Level 2: weekly urinalysis only
Level 3: urinalysis and electronic monitoring
Level 4: more frequent urinalysis and electronic monitoring
Before their initial court appearance, each person charged with a crinal offense and detained at the Charles County Detention Center is to be assessed by the Administrator using the pretrial risk scoring instrument. Assessment, once complete, will be submitted to the court for consideration at the person's initial court appearance. It should be noted that pretrial release conditions are within the sole discretion of the court.
In the county's presentation, it was proposed that Pretrial Release and Community Services Office” be established within Charles County Government. This office would be responsible for administering both the court-ordered pretrial release and community service programs. This office would be a staff of three, two existing employees and one additional employee who will need to be hired. They would all be Charles County Government employees.
For more information about this legislation, contact Charles County Board of County Commissioners, President Reuben Collins at 301-645-0550, or you can submit a concern here.