Panel may look at how pretrial practices affect disparities in justice

Panel may look at how pretrial practices affect disparities in justice

A panel reviewing ways to reduce recidivism and lower prison costs in Maryland is being urged to examine pretrial detention, bail and other parts of the justice system that inmates encounter before entering state prisons.

The push to expand the scope of the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council is coming from some of its members who recently were presented with data that show black men serve longer prison sentences in Maryland than white men who commit similar crimes.

Christopher B. Shank, the chairman of the council and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, called the figures “disturbing.” He said the council will take a “deeper dive” into the data presented by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which eventually could lead to proposals for new laws or policies.

“We can’t solve problems unless we know what they are,” said Shank, a Republican who during his time as a state senator from Washington County worked close­ly with Democrats on ­marijuana-decriminalization legislation.

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