Date of Award

5-1971

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science

Abstract

A sample of the defendants arraigned in the Criminal Court of Rochester, New York in 1970 was studied to determine the effects (if any) of defendant-related characteristics on the bail decision.

Attention was focused on the literature on bail to determine the nature of the bail system in the United States. Numerous writers have advocated that the present-day, widely practiced monetary bail system be reformed. They assert that the system is unfair to the poor, for they are retained in jail prior to trial, because they cannot afford to post bail or pay the bondsman's premium. On the other hand, persons with funds adequate to make bail are released pending trial. Several empirical studies have shown the influence pretrial detention has on society, on the defendant, and on the disposition of the case.

There is a distinct lack of empirical research in the area of defendant-related characteristics which might influence the bail decision. This study is an attempt to fill that particular research void. Several legitimate characteristics, i.e. the type of crime, whether or not the charge is single or multiple, the extent and type of the defendant 's previous criminal record , and the family and community ties of the defendant, are viewed to determine their effects(s) (if any) on the bail decision. Three non-legitimate characteristics, i.e. race, sex, and age, are viewed to ascertain their effects(s) (if any) on the bail decision.

This study found that several of the defendant-related characteristics do apparently influence the bail decision. Knowledge of these non-judicial inequalities in the bail system will aid reformers in their efforts to change the monetary bail system.

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