Criminal defendants often face a significant restraint on their liberty even before indictment and trial: Pre-trial detention. Traditionally, bail has been understood as collateral to ensure that defendants return to court. But many jurisdictions maintain a bail system that amounts to punishment before conviction for poor defendants. Criminal defendants who lack the financial means to post money bail are often trapped behind bars until their case is resolved, while defendants who can afford it post bail and regain their freedom. This webinar, jointly sponsored by the committees of Fair and Impartial Courts and Economic Justice of the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, will explore the inequality of bail systems and the approaches that jurisdictions have taken to make bail more fair for everyone. We will discuss the long-term economic and social impacts that pre-trial detention causes long after arrest, recent studies that indicate how racial bias impacts bail decisions, and how the impact of pre-trial detention increases the likelihood of a defendant ultimately pleading guilty.
Harvard Law Professor Crystal Yang, Alec Karakatsanis, Executive Director of Civil Rights Corps, and John Mathews II, Senior Legal Counsel, The Justice Collaborative
Economic Justice Committee and Fair and Impartial Courts Committee; Co-sponsored by the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID)