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Bail Reform Act, 1984: Organizational and Mandated Factors in the Decision To Detain

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 3 Issue: 3 Dated: (1989) Pages: 257-278
C W Barnes; R Kingsnorth; T Hodgins
Date Published
22 pages
The 1984 Bail Reform Act recognizes danger to the community as well as flight from the criminal justice system as explicit reasons for preventive detention and was evaluated using data from 623 defendants handled by the pretrial services agency in the Eastern Federal District of California during 1983-86.
The study population included 211 cases initiated before and 412 cases initiated after the law's passage. Results indicated that the three criteria for detention -- charge, number of prior felony convictions, and sentence severity -- led to greater differentiation among the three options (release on recognizance, unsecured and secured bond, and detention) after the law than had existed before the law. In addition, setting guidelines for detention also defined the situations in which it was not appropriate, increasing judicial selection of the three release options. Results also indicated that the offense with which the defendant was charged had the greatest influence on recommendations of the pretrial services agency and on judicial decisions, while community ties declined in importance. Results supported the use of guidelines for determining bail, but did not support the legislatively perceived need for preventive detention. Tables, notes, and 21 references (Author abstract modified)