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“A group of Maryland lawmakers is vowing to abolish cash bail for poor defendants, and an opinion issued Tuesday by the state attorney general’s office on the constitutionality of the policy may be the backing they need to do so.
“In an 11-page opinion, Sandra Benson Brantley, counsel to the General Assembly, wrote that the current system, which sets bails at amounts many defendants can’t afford, could violate due process.
“’If pretrial detention is not justified yet bail is set out of reach financially for the defendant,’ the opinion said, ‘it is also likely the Court would declare that the bail is excessive under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,’ which prohibits the government from imposing excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment.”