District of Columbia leaders have abandoned a week-old plan to propose high cash bonds as one way to hold repeat offenders in jail until trial because of prosecutors' fears that the plan could bring a constitutional challenge to the city's pretrial detention law.

Last week, responding to congressional concerns that something had to be done about repeat offenders involved in violent crimes, Mayor Marion Barry and Council Chairman Arrington Dixon enthusiastically endorsed the use of high bonds, as recommended by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate District Appropriations subcommittee.

Since then, however, representatives of the U.S. Attorney's office, the corporation counsel, the American Civil Liberties Union and members of the City Council's judiciary committee have questioned the constitutionality of the plan, saying it would discriminate against the poor.

Yesterday, John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who earlier this week said he would propose the use of high cash bonds, announced that he has decided against it after discussions with the U.S. Attorney's office. "We didn't want to do anything that would cause more problems than it would solve," a Wilson aide said.

Earlier this week, the judiciary committee approved several changes in the pretrial detention program sought by D'Amato and, on Tuesday, Barry is expected to propose others.

Corporation Counsel Judith W. Rogers said yesterday, however, that administration lawyers are trying to find an alternative to high cash bonds, and another source said such a measure was no longer sought.

"That idea has been discarded," the source said. "The debate is right where it ought to be, away from the money."

One proposal that Barry is expected to make would allow police to hold for up to three days previously arrested suspects who are out on bond while a judge determines whether that bond should be revoked.

Prosecutors said that provision should significantly reduce the number of suspects who are arrested and quickly released. Under current law, there is no provision for detaining those already on bond who are arrested on new charges.

In addition, in cases where cash bonds are now legally imposed to insure that a suspect shows up for a trial, the proposed legislation would allow judges the right to question the source of money and require other forms of collateral, such as real property.

Prosecutors said that change would limit the chances of suspects dealing in illegal drugs, which usually involves large amounts of money, posting high cash bonds and then fleeing. City Abandons Proposal to Set High Cash Bail By Tom Sherwood Washington Post Staff Writer

District of Columbia leaders have abandoned a week-old plan to propose high cash bonds as one way to hold repeat offenders in jail until trial because of prosecutors' fears that the plan could bring a constitutional challenge to the city's pretrial detention law.

Last week, responding to congressional concerns that something had to be done about repeat offenders involved in violent crimes, Mayor Marion Barry and Council Chairman Arrington Dixon enthusiastically endorsed the use of high bonds, as recommended by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate District Appropriations subcommittee.

Since then, however, representatives of the U.S. Attorney's office, the corporation counsel, the American Civil Liberties Union and members of the City Council's judiciary committee have questioned the constitutionality of the plan, saying it would discriminate against the poor.

Yesterday, John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), who earlier this week said he would propose the use of high cash bonds, announced that he has decided against it after discussions with the U.S. Attorney's office. "We didn't want to do anything that would cause more problems than it would solve," a Wilson aide said.

Earlier this week, the judiciary committee approved several changes in the pretrial detention program sought by D'Amato and, on Tuesday, Barry is expected to propose others.

Corporation Counsel Judith W. Rogers said yesterday, however, that administration lawyers are trying to find an alternative to high cash bonds, and another source said such a measure was no longer sought.

"That idea has been discarded," the source said. "The debate is right where it ought to be, away from the money."

One proposal that Barry is expected to make would allow police to hold for up to three days previously arrested suspects who are out on bond while a judge determines whether that bond should be revoked.

Prosecutors said that provision should significantly reduce the number of suspects who are arrested and quickly released. Under current law, there is no provision for detaining those already on bond who are arrested on new charges.

In addition, in cases where cash bonds are now legally imposed to insure that a suspect shows up for a trial, the proposed legislation would allow judges the right to question the source of money and require other forms of collateral, such as real property.

Prosecutors said that change would limit the chances of suspects dealing in illegal drugs, which usually involves large amounts of money, posting high cash bonds and then fleeing.