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Preventive Detention: The Impact of the 1984 Bail Reform Act in the Eastern Federal District of California

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: (June 1987) Pages: 150-173
R Kingsnorth; C Barnes; C Davis; T Hodgins; C Nicholes
Date Published
24 pages
The time period for this study bracketed the introduction of the Federal Bail Reform Act on October 12, 1984, and facilitated analysis over time of the effects of the new law on pretrial decisionmaking practices in the Eastern Federal District of California.
The act stipulates four pretrial decision alternatives for Federal judicial officers when determining the appropriate pretrial status of criminal defendants. An accused may be released on personal recognizance or unsecured appearance bond with or without conditions, released on secured bond with or without conditions, temporarily detained to permit revocation of conditional release or deportation, or detained until trial. This study of the act's impact used 211 cases initiated in the 15 months prior to and 412 cases begun in the 21 months after the act's passage. Each case was coded for 128 variables. Overall, detention rates have remained unchanged as has average detention length, suggesting the law has not contributed significantly to detention facility overcrowding. Discriminant analysis suggests that the judicial decisionmaking process has been routinized by the law. Rates of pretrial crime and failure-to-appear rates, extremely low before the law, were unaffected by the new legislation. 8 tables, 14 notes, 26-item bibliography. (Author abstract modified)