Jan 25, 2021

Pretrial GPS Monitoring 2021 Fact Sheet

Pretrial GPS Monitoring Indigency Determinations – 2021 Fact Sheet

THE LAW: Maryland State law currently allows courts to place defendants awaiting trial (known as “pre-trial” defendants) on home detention until their day in court. This means that they are allowed to reside at their place of residence while on constant surveillance instead of spending months in jail.
THE PROBLEM: For most jurisdictions, an individual on pretrial home detention MUST pay fees to a private home detention monitoring agency (PHDMAs) for the use of their GPS monitoring devices (a.k.a “the box”, or ankle bracelet). The fees range anywhere from $10-$20 per day or over $300+ per month. If an individual is too poor to pay, they may end up behind bars for ‘violating’ their agreement with the courts, which is to limit travel AND pay home monitoring fees. 
In an effort to reduce a reliance on cash bail and reduce those jailed while awaiting trial, home detention is promoted as both the more affordable and humane alternative to sitting in jail. However, costly home detention fees are imposed on poor defendants – who have not yet been found guilty of a crime – when they are already struggling to make ends meet. Requiring unemployed and low income residents to pay for their freedom, especially when a finding of guilt has not been established, should be a crime, yet we criminalize those too poor to secure legal representation and/or pay for their release. This is the #CriminalizationOfPoverty, and it falls disproportionately on Black and Brown workers.
On Tuesday, January 26th the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing for House Bill 316 which would eliminate the cost of home detention for impoverished individuals, and put the cost of surveillance on the state. Contact your legislator to urge their support for this important bill!
#DecriminalizePoverty #DecriminalizeRace #BailReformContinues #EyesOnAnnapolis #MDGA2021 #JOTF

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