A Means to an End: Assessing the Ability to Pay Bail

2020-01-05

Across the United States, nearly half a million people are in jail at any given time because they cannot afford bail—the price of their freedom.1 Historically, the terms “bail” and “bond” connoted pretrial re- lease—on one’s own recognizance or a promise to return to court.2 Almost 70 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Stack v. Boyle that bail is “the right to release pretrial.”3 Yet with notable exceptions in places like Washington, DC, New Jersey, and now New York State, today “bail” and “bond” are synonymous with money and pretrial detention in most courthouses throughout the country.”4

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Posted by: Pat Monks