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Impact of Bail Reform in Selected District Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
40 pages
This report provides information on pretrial and post-conviction custody rates, reasons for custody, the length of time defendants were in custody, and sentencing outcomes for offenders kept in custody or released under the new law and the Bail Reform Act of 1966.
The report bases its work on 4 of the 94 district courts. The General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates that the pretrial custody rates have increased under the new law in three of the districts and decreased in the fourth. Under the new law the reasons that the defendants are held in custody before trial have changed. Fewer defendants are being held because they did not pay the financial bill and more are being held because they are considered a flight or danger risk. GAO estimates that the number of days defendants were in custody both before trial and during the post-conviction phase were basically the same under both laws. In the four districts visited by the GAO, it is estimated that about 31 percent and 39 percent of persons convicted were detained while awaiting sentencing under the old and new laws respectively. Under the new law, most offenders who appealed their conviction or sentence were in custody during the appeals process. It was also determined that pretrial information is useful, but that it is not always timely. 2 appendixes, 11 tables, 3 figures, 2 notes.