Maryland lawmakers debate bill to block violent offenders from receiving bail

There’s a new effort in the Maryland legislature that supporters say stops the merry-go-round of repeat violent criminals posting bail only to commit more crimes. The new bill got its first hearing in Annapolis Thursday, and it turns out, not everyone is on board with this idea.  

The one thing Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is that it's repeat career criminals fueling violent crime throughout the state in urban and suburban neighborhoods. How to deal with those criminals is where the parties don't see eye-to-eye. 

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Maryland’s House judicial committee Thursday took up House Republican leader Del. Jason Buckel’s No Bail For Violent Criminals Act of 2023. The bill aims to keep repeat, violent offenders off the streets while they await justice. But while Republicans argued letting repeat violent criminals continue to post bail is wrong, Democrats say it violates people’s rights.

"They are killing and hurting people in our communities, and we should be serious as legislators in doing everything we can to put those types of folks in jail and keep them there while their cases are being adjudicated!" said Del. Jason Buckel.

"That secondary charge might just be bogus as the first charge! We do have a history of police misconduct in my city, so both of them could be very bogus, but now this individual is locked up, cannot work, loses his job, and now he can’t take care of his kids! said Del. Caylin Young. 

The debate over denying bail for repeat violent offenders took place as Democratic Governor Wes Moore announced a new $11 million investment to fund crime data, intelligence, and coordination across Maryland to fight violent crime. The governor promised again Thursday that reducing violent crime is a primary focus of his administration.

He also named Lieutenant Colonel Roland Butler the first Black superintendent of the Maryland State Police in its 102-year history. Lt. Col. Butler will be in charge of a new state police effort to get all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland to work together on crime disruption efforts.