American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 661–681 | Cite as

Sentenced to Pretrial Detention: A Study of Bail Decisions and Outcomes

  • Meghan SacksEmail author
  • Vincenzo A. Sainato
  • Alissa R. Ackerman


Previous research on bail practices has shown that both legal factors, such as offense severity and prior criminal record, and demographic factors such as race and age, exert a strong influence on bail decisions and outcomes. Using a novel application of Knowledge Discovery statistical methods, Bayesian probability analytics, this study utilized a sample of (n = 975) cases collected by New Jersey’s Criminal Disposition Commission, followed from arrest through disposition, to examine bail decisions made by judges and subsequent bail outcomes, i.e., whether defendant was able to meet financial bail requirements to secure release from jail. We found the following: Black and Hispanic defendants are more likely than their white counterparts to have to pay a financial bail requirement; modest differences between races with regards to bail amount set by the court; and that minority defendants, and especially Hispanic defendants, are at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to post bail and they are therefore much more likely than their white counterparts to be held in pretrial detention.


Pretrial detention Bail Offense severity Case processing Judicial decision makin 


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meghan Sacks
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vincenzo A. Sainato
    • 2
  • Alissa R. Ackerman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences and HistoryFairleigh Dickinson UniversityHackensackUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminal JusticeCity University of SeattleSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Social Work ProgramUniversity of WashingtonTacomaUSA

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