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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 90995 Find in a Library
Title: Legal/Extra-Legal Controversy - Judicial Decisions in Pretrial Release
Journal: Law and Society Review  Volume:17  Issue:3  Dated:(1983)  Pages:481-515
Author(s): I H Nagel
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 35
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study found both legal (prescribed by statute) and extra-legal (not prescribed in statute) factors influenced pretrial release decisions in New York State.
Abstract: This study examined whether the formal law, as embodied in statutorily prescribed factors, affects pretrial release outcomes. Second, to allow for the possibility of contextual variation, the study determined the degree to which the impact of legal factors is consistent across the three stages of pretrial release decisionmaking. Third, to the extent that the legal factors do not account for all the variation in outcomes, the study determined whether factors not mentioned in the statute affect outcomes. Finally, the predominant extra-legal influences on outcome were identified. The study sample consisted of all 5,594 cases first arraigned in criminal court in 1 borough of New York City between December 1974 and March 1975. The legal factors identified were the statutory severity of offenses for which the defendants were charged, their prior criminal records, and the recommendations of the Pretrial Services Agency. Extra-legal variables considered were sex, age, ethnicity, and the judge's identity. Legal factors were found to substantially affect decisions about whether to release a defendant on recognizance, the amount of bail required, and whether to offer a defendant a cash alternative to a surety bond. The impact of these factors varied, however, according to the particular decision being made. Extra-legal factors were also found to affect outcomes according to the context of the decision. Judge bias and measures of the defendant's dangerousness were the most influential extra-legal factors. Tabular data, 32 footnotes and 47 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Bail/Financial Release; Decisionmaking; New York; Pretrial release; Research methods
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