Archive for April 6th, 2017

Bail Reform

posted by Judge_Burke @ 14:30 PM
April 6, 2017

In many parts of the United States, there are attempts to reform the bail system. Recently, New Jersey amended the state constitution as part of a bail reform project. Similarly, Maryland made major changes.

Megan Stevenson and Sandra G. Mayson (University of Pennsylvania Law School and University of Pennsylvania Law School) have posted Bail Reform: New Directions for Pretrial Detention and Release (In Academy for Justice, A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (Erik Luna ed., 2017, Forthcoming)) on SSRN.

Here is the abstract: 

Our current pretrial system imposes high costs on both the people who are detained pretrial and the taxpayers who foot the bill. These costs have prompted a surge of bail reform around the country. Reformers seek to reduce pretrial detention rates, as well as racial and socioeconomic disparities in the pretrial system, while simultaneously improving appearance rates and reducing pretrial crime. The current state of pretrial practice suggests that there is ample room for improvement. Bail hearings are often cursory, with no defense counsel present. Money-bail practices lead to high rates of detention even among misdemeanor defendants and those who pose no serious risk of crime or flight. Infrequent evaluation means that the judges and magistrates who set bail have little information about how their bail-setting practices affect detention, appearance and crime rates. Practical and low-cost interventions, such as court reminder systems, are underutilized. To promote lasting reform, this chapter identifies pretrial strategies that are both within the state’s authority and supported by empirical research. These interventions should be designed with input from stakeholders, and carefully evaluated to ensure that the desired improvements are achieved.

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