ANNAPOLIS - Sen. Brian Frosh says efforts to reform Maryland's bail hearing system are dead this year.
On June 1, the state will likely have to start providing defense attorneys for poor defendants at initial bail hearings. To avoid this expense, the House and Senate passed disparate bills to rework the bail process.
But the House just advanced its plan Saturday, and Frosh, who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said it was too late to work out a compromise.
As a backup measure, next year's budget tentatively allocates $10 million for paying private attorneys to staff these hearings.
Public defenders say it would cost $28 million a year to pay the standard rate for this kind of work. They worry that a crisis will ensue from underfunding.