Your Call: A modern debtors’ prison? Examining pretrial detention and the bail bond system

Jun 20, 2017


Does the pretrial detention and bail bond system embolden predatory practices?

Of the approximately 700,000 people in jail on any given day in the US, more than 60 percent have not been sentenced. The majority of prisoners in jail are serving time because they can’t afford to pay the pretrial bail bond. Since the 1980s, pretrial detentions have far outpaced the number of individuals actually serving sentences. Why is that?


Mica Doctoroff, legislative attorney for the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy

Joshua Norkin, staff attorney with Legal Aid Society of New York City’s Special Litigation Unit

Web Resources:

Senator Robert Hertzberg: The California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017 aims to eliminate the economic disparity and injustice in the pretrial process


ACLU: No Money, No Freedom: The Need for Bail Reform

The Los Angeles Times: Here's how state lawmakers plan to reform the bail system in California

Human Rights Watch: “Not in it for Justice,” How California’s Pretrial Detention and Bail System Unfairly Punishes Poor People

Prison Policy Initiative: Era of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth

Color of Change: Selling off our Freedom: How Insurance Corporations Have Taken Over Our Bail System

Public Policy Institute of California: Pretrial Release in California

Vera: Incarceration Trends