Montco officials say changes to ensure fairer bail system coming soon

Jim Melwert
July 12, 2020 - 4:00 am
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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Montgomery County officials are rolling out a plan they say has been years in the making, which they say is designed to ensure anyone arrested and charged with a crime is treated fairly.

Montgomery County president judge Thomas Del Ricci said when someone is arrested they are only accused. 

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"They are not convicted, they do not lose their rights as free citizens of our commonwealth or of the United States."

Del Ricci said the court, defenders, prosecutors, and police have been working for years to create a unit that can review all bail decisions to try to ensure fairness. As he points out, pretrial incarceration can cause someone to lose their job, their home, and in some cases their family.

Montgomery County court administrator and chair of the county's criminal justice advisory board Mike Kehs explained during the booking process, there will be an interview to determine what Kehs describes as "the least restrictive conditions that ensure two key factors."

"Appearance at a subsequent court hearing and protection of public safety," he detailed.

Del Ricci says they understand risk assessment tools may be inherently biased, so they plan to work with independent evaluators, likely from a university, to ensure the program is as fair as possible.

Related: Bucks County changes pre-trial ARD program to make affordable to all