Law: First The Sentence, Then the Trial

The Supreme Court approves no bail for dangerous defendants

In one of the most important criminal law rulings of the decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has given a new twist to the first axiom of American justice, that the accused is presumed innocent until proved guilty. In a 6-3 decision last week, the court upheld the controversial 1984 Bail Reform Act, by which Congress authorized the "preventive detention" of some federal suspects. For many years federal judges were forbidden to deny bail in most cases, except when there was reason to believe that a defendant might flee before trial. The new law has permitted those judges to refuse bail to...

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