New PPL Policy Brief: Cash Bail Reform: Empirical Evidence and Policy Recommendations
Posted by Temple University Public Policy Lab on October 3, 2023
In “Cash Bail Reform: Empirical Evidence and Policy Recommendations,” authors E. Rely Vîlcică and Sarah D. Jones evaluate different approaches to reforming bail systems.
Bail decisions and practices—whether persons accused of crimes are tried in liberty or confinement—are some of the most consequential in the criminal justice system. They juxtapose concerns for individual liberty, the safety of the community, and the integrity of the judicial process, thus carrying substantial weight for the accused, the public, and the justice system. Given its import, efforts to improve and reform bail practice in the United States have been a reoccurring concern. Yet, significant change has been difficult to achieve, mainly due to one intractable problem: the reliance on cash as the main form of bond (i.e., guarantee for court appearance). Most critics of the bail system see cash bail as the root of all other problems and point to its disproportionate and discriminatory impacts. We highlight here the most significant contemporary efforts to reform bail, namely those aiming to abolish cash bail entirely or otherwise heavily restrict its use.
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