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The Nation

February 15, 1988

Judges used broad discretion granted under the newly enacted Bail Reform Act of 1984 to jail a sharply higher percentage of people awaiting trial for federal crimes, the government reported. The chances of being jailed while awaiting trial for people accused of serious narcotics violations were 20% higher after the law took effect than previously, the Bureau of Justice Statistics said in a study, which covered a 6-month period in 1985. After the bail reforms took effect in November, 1984, the probability of being jailed was 63% higher for those accused of causing injuries. It was 23% higher for people who had used firearms and 17% higher for those classified as dangerous during pretrial interviews. The act permits federal courts to deny bail if the government proves that no conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of the community or the appearance of the defendant at trial.

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