I read with interest the article titled “Legislation seeks to eliminate setting of bail for Maine defendants” (Feb. 9), and as someone who helps states to become informed enough to take on issues of pretrial justice, I am familiar with the varying opinions articulated in the article.

Many states across America are thinking about, or in the process of, changing from the type of release-and-detention system our country adopted in about 1900.

It is a change that is long overdue, that is supported by countless important national organizations representing virtually everyone in the criminal justice system, and that reflects not only current pretrial research, but also the history of bail and the law intertwined with that history.

To the extent that the referenced bill helps move Maine toward that change, I hope the people of Maine will understand its benefits.

But I put an exclamation point next to Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce’s comment that “The whole system needs to be looked at.” Indeed.

What I have found, in state after state, is that when criminal justice and local leaders look into their entire justice system, and in particular, into their system of pretrial release and detention, light bulbs light, consensus is found and improvements are made.

If justice and government leaders in Maine will agree to look deeply into “bail” and “no bail” – how to set it up and how to do it – they’ll quickly see countless ideas for improvement that may not be readily apparent now. .

Tim Schnacke

Center For Legal and Evidence-Based Practices

co-chair, American Bar Association Pretrial Justice Committee

Golden, Colorado