U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Criminal Bail: How Bail Reform Is Working in Selected District Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
48 pages
This report provides information on the impact of the implementation of the Federal Bail Reform Act of 1984 in four Federal district courts: northern Indiana, Arizona, southern Florida, and eastern New York.
In each district, the study examined a random sample of felony cases begun between January and June 1984 under the Bail Reform Act of 1966. A second sample of felony cases in each court was analyzed for the period between January and June 1986 under the new law. The study obtained data on detention rates, reasons for detention, failure-to-appear, and crime-on-bail rates under the new law and the previous law. Overall, a greater percentage of defendants were detained during their pretrial period under the new law than under the old law (31 versus 26 percent). All of the defendants detained in the four districts under the old law were detained because they did not pay the money bail set by the courts, compared to 51 percent detained for this reason under the new law. The remaining 49 percent were denied bail and detained because they were considered to be a flight and/or danger risk. In two of the four districts when money bail was used as a release condition under the new law, the number of defendants detained because they did not pay bail increased. The new law leaves open to interpretation whether money bail can be set at an amount the defendant is unable to pay. The four districts were evenly split on their interpretation and implementation of this provision. The study does not offer any recommendations. 15 tables, 2 figures, and appended supplementary information.