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Decline in Unconditional Release Before Trial

NCJ Number
Clare Ringland; Don Weatherburn
Date Published
December 2010
10 pages
This study examined whether the reduction in the percentage of cases for which bail is dispensed in New South Wales (Australia) with unconditional release is due to a change in the profile of cases coming before the criminal courts or a general increase in the threshold for dispensing bail.
The study concludes that the decline in unconditional release has resulted from an increase in the threshold for such releases rather than a change in the profile of defendants appearing before the courts. The likelihood of unconditional release varies significantly according to the defendant's age, gender, Indigenous status, offense seriousness, prior criminal record, court jurisdiction, prior imprisonment, and prior breach of court orders. Even after controlling for these factors, however, there are substantial differences in the likelihood of unconditional release depending on the year in which the bail decision was made. The likelihood of unconditional release has been steadily declining since 1999. Successive amendments to the New South Wales Bail Act 1978 have increased the number of offenses for which there is a presumption against bail. In some cases, bail may now only be granted in exceptional circumstances. The decrease in unconditional release may have indirectly contributed to the growth in the New South Wales remand population over the last 10 years. 3 tables, 4 figures, and 6 references