Bail Industry Campaign Contributions to Maryland Lawmakers Rise - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Bail Industry Campaign Contributions to Maryland Lawmakers Rise as Reforms Weighed

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Campaign contributions from the bail industry to Maryland lawmakers have increased in recent years, as officials have debated reforms to the process that determines whether people are held in jail or released after an arrest, according to a report released Wednesday by Common Cause Maryland.
    
The industry has given a total of $288,550 from 2011 to the present, the government watchdog group found. In the last election cycle, from 2011 to 2014, the bail industry gave a total of $153,300. And donations in the current election cycle are on pace to largely surpass that, because $135,250 already has been given in the first two years of the current cycle. Campaign contributions to state lawmakers added up to $87,100 alone last year, the report found.
    
"Special interests use campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures to build relationships, to ensure legislators know their perspectives on policy reforms, and to be heard in the legislative process. As such, these expenditures are not inherently a concern. However, when entities are able to exert significantly more influence than the general public, or the people that their industry impacts, it creates an inequality in our democracy," said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, the executive director of Common Cause Maryland.
    
Maryland lawmakers have struggled with bail reform issues for years.
    
This month, Attorney General Brian Frosh asked the state's highest court to consider making a rule change to make sure people who are not a safety risk are not kept in jail just because they are poor. The court is expected to decide next month how to proceed.
    
Lawmakers also say they plan to take up legislation this year on bail reform.

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