Criminal Justice: Bugs in Bail Reform

"The good citizens of the District of Columbia had better take cover," snapped Federal Judge George L. Hart Jr. Thanks to the new Federal Bail Reform Act, he was releasing eleven criminal defendants on nothing more than their own promise to show up for trial later.

The intent of the new bail act, passed eight months ago, was to reinforce a long-ignored principle: defendants should not be jailed before trial merely because they cannot afford bail. All very well, since many federal criminal cases involve white-collar crimes and relatively responsible defendants. But...

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