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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 72364 Find in a Library
Title: Evolution of a Bail Reform
Journal: Policy Sciences  Volume:7  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1976)  Pages:281-313
Author(s): L S Friedman
Date Published: 1976
Page Count: 33
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: This paper analyzes an attempt to reform the bail system through the development of procedures increasing the use of pretrial release on own recognizance (ROR).
Abstract: The Manhattan Bail Project (which grew out of the Vera Foundation), introduced the ROR reform as an attempt to increase justice for poor individuals. Initial success was demonstrated in a controlled experiment. Government decisionmakers decided to implement the reform in New York City and elsewhere. Over time, however, initial success faded and the reform operation deteriorated. New York City's Office of Probation placed low priority on verifying the information given by defendants, the judges have increasingly disregarded the Office's recommendations and used their own subjective evaluations for selecting ROR defendants, and careful notification of released defendants about their scheduled court appearances (as done in the original project) was abandoned by the City. The spread of the reform to other communities has not shown an obvious impact on increasing justice. In Washington, D.C., where attempts to improve the initial technology were made, effectiveness of a bail agency in terms of impact on detention is not clear. The increased use of the summons may have been a valuable spinoff from the intial reform. However, government organizational intelligence proved to be insufficient to operate the technology effectively. In Connecticut, a reform effort that appeared to be working successfully was monitored and foreclosed, on the probably incorrect ground of economy. In trying to stimulate bail reform nationally through a series of conferences, important information about the initial experiment may have been underplayed, and the cost of operating the technology and the expected savings were not discussed. Despite the demonstrated productivity of the Vera Foundation in producing worthwhile new ideas (the Manhattan Project), it is still questionable whether the system can adopt them successfully. The capability does not seem out of reach. Continuing careful resarch and development at the local level can improve performance. An appendix addresses ROR cost effectiveness, and a bibliography contains 38 references.
Index Term(s): Bail reform; New York; Pretrial release
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