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Reforming the Criminal System Essay

Pages:4 (1110 words)



Topic:Criminal Justice

Document Type:Essay


The Need for Criminal Justice Reform and Bail Reform

When it comes to incarceration, the U.S. has the worst record in the world: the U.S. is only 4.4% of the world’s population, but it makes up 22% of the entire planet’s prison population. 716 people for every 100,000 in the U.S. will be incarcerated; moreover, 70% of those in prison will be there simply because they cannot afford to pay for bail (ACLU, 2019). Since most people live paycheck to paycheck in the U.S. it is not surprising to find that anyone accused of a crime is unlikely to be able to post the average cost of bail, which in the U.S. is $11,000 (ACLU, 2019). For these reasons, there is a need to establish both criminal justice reform and bail reform in the U.S. The American Gulag is like that of the Soviet Gulag: people lose their entire lives once they disappear into the system, where they become basically slave laborers for the corporations working for pennies on the dollar while incarcerated (Pelaez, 2019).

Advocacy groups that support bail reform are The Sentencing Project, which is a Wasington, D.C.-based national reform group that focuses on racism in the justice system and lower in the prison population; The Marshall Project, which is made up of journalists seeking to shed light on the justice system as it lacks transparency; and grassroots organizations like The St. Louis Action Committee and the Arch City Defenders, which work with national organizations to reform the justice system (Ziegelheim, 2018).

The current arrest and detention process is as follows:

The pretrial process consists of

Bail reform statistics in New Jersey show signs of progress. According to the Drug Policy Alliance (2019), the pretrial prison population has declined almost by half over the past 3 years, which means fewer people are sitting in jail while awaiting trial and are instead able to get back to their lives thanks to bail reform. Less than 1% of those arrested were hit with money bail, and 9 out of every 10 people arrested in New Jersey is now released from custody within 24 hours of arrest. Only 1% of those arrested remains in custody for more than 2 days (Drug Policy Alliance, 2019).

The arrest process begins with a suspect being taken into custody. The police will search the person for contraband. The person…

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…reads the charges and the person is allowed to enter a plea;

5) Plea Bargain—this is where the person agrees to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge with the expectation of receiving a lighter sentence and avoiding a costly trial; most cases end at this stage without a trial ever becoming necessary; many advocates for reform view this as an abuse because prosecutors put pressure on defendants to accept a plea deal so that there does not need to be a trial; it is essentially subverts the rights of the arrestee if the system is manipulated in this manner.

6) Preliminary Hearing—if there is no plea deal, this step follows wherein the judge hears the evidence from the prosecutor and decides whether there is a case to be made for prosecution.

In conclusion, the justice system needs to be reformed and the reforms seen in New Jersey have helped to give arrestees their rights. However, more reform is needed as the many advocacy groups are showing. They are shining light on the justice system and helping people to obtain bail. They are also emphasizing that the pre-trial system is manipulating the trial process and preventing people from…

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

Pelaez, V. (2019). The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? Retrieved from

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

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