Moving Beyond Money: A Primer on Bail Reform

“Bail reform presents a historic challenge – and also an opportunity. Bail is historically a tool meant to allow courts to minimize the intrusion on a defendant’s liberty while helping to assure appearance at trial. It is one mechanism available to administer the pretrial process. Yet in courtrooms around the country, judges use the blunt instrument of secured money bail to ensure that certain defendants are detained prior to their trial. Money bail prevents many indigent defendants from leaving jail while their cases are pending. In many jurisdictions, this has led to an indefensible state of affairs: too many people jailed unnecessarily, with their economic status often defining pretrial outcomes…This primer on bail reform seeks to guide policymakers and advocates in identifying reforms and tailoring those reforms to their jurisdiction.”

Report by the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School.

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