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Criminal Justice Reform and Bail Reform Research Paper

Related Topics: Law Trial Justice Bail Reform

Pages:4 (1299 words)



Topic:Criminal Justice System

Document Type:Research Paper



What is criminal justice reform? It is the focus on improving the criminal justice system through the implementation of evidence-based best practices, policies that promote greater equitability fairness, and systems that are more cost-efficient (National Criminal Justice Association, 2019). One area in which reform is needed is the issue of bail. Bail is the bond that allows an arrested individual to leave jail while awaiting trial, which could last for many months. If the individual has the money, he may post bail. If not, he is stuck in jail. Essentially, the system favors the rich over the poor (ACLU, 2019). There are many examples of abuses regarding bail—from the woman mistakenly jailed pre-trial, who ended up losing her job and kids as a result (Woods & Rosnick, 2019) to the $2 billion bail industry that profits off the impoverished (ACLU, 2019). This paper will discuss the history of reform, pros and cons, incarceration rates, advocacy efforts, the current arrest and detention process and statistics in New Jersey.

Criminal Justice Reform Background

In the 1990s there was an attitude in America that the government needed to “get tough” on crime. This led to the creation of the Three Strikes policy and to higher rates of incarceration, the rise in racial profiling, and other abuses—such as prosecutors essentially cornering suspects into pleading guilty just to avoid a lengthy trial and a potentially harsher sentence if the defense should fail to persuade of innocence (Vitiello, 2003). Reform measures have been around for as long as the system has, however. Even in Charles Dickens’ day in England there was a push for reform of a system many viewed as unjust. In America, the Progressive Movement was interested in reform and today there are activists like Angela Davis who view the system as inherently racist since a disproportional percentage of incarcerated people are black. Congress has recently taken measures to reform the system again with The First Step Act, which aims to reduce harsher sentencing for non-violent offenders (Platt, 2018); however, the system is in need of greater reform beyond that—and bail reform is one of the areas where it is needed immensely.

Bail Reform

There are six different forms of bail: citation release, surety bond, recognizance, property bond, immigration bond and cash bond. The citation release is when police give you a citation release at your home that…

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…Pretrial Process

Arrest occurs when officers determine they have sufficient evidence that will allow prosecution to charge the suspect with a crime and prosecute him in a court of law. The suspect is detained while charges are made. The pretrial process consists of determining pretrial release conditions: the judge is supposed to set conditions that are least restrictive but will still ensure a court appearance.

Statistics in New Jersey

Bail reform may be working in New Jersey. According to the state’s annual bail reform report, the state’s pretrial jail population has declined nearly 44% since the start of 2016 (Drug Policy Alliance, 2019). More importantly the report shows that in 2018, only 102 defendants had money bail set for them, out of a total defendant population of 44,383. Nearly 90% of arrestees were released within 24 hours of arrest and 99% were released within 48 hours of arrest (Drug Policy Alliance, 2019).


What can be concluded from this research is that bail reform is needed and that once it is implemented it can create a system of greater equitability, as can be seen in New Jersey. Grassroots organizations can help make this possible. The more…

Sample Source(s) Used


ACLU. (2019). ACLU lawsuit goes after $2 billion bail industry that profits off poor people. Retrieved from

Drug Policy Alliance. (2019). New Jersey Judiciary Releases Annual Bail Reform Report, with Additional Key Statistics. Retrieved from

National Criminal Justice Association. (2019). Criminal justice system improvement. Retrieved from

Platt, T. (2018). Criminal justice reform in the U.S. has a long history of repressive outcomes. Retrieved from

Vitiello, M. (2002). Three Strikes Laws-A Real or Imagined Deterrent to Crime. Hum. Rts., 29, 3.

Woods, A. & Rosnick, J. (2019). Mistakenly Jailed Pretrial, an Ohio Mother Lost Her Job and Kids. Retrieved from

Ziegelheim, D. (2018). Grassroots Organizations Are Leading The Way On Criminal Justice Reform. Retrieved from

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