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Unit 6: Bail



The History of Bail in the United States-

            The US bail system is based on a system developed in England during the Middle Ages. In 1677 the English parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act which established that magistrates could set terms for bail. However, American bail came about through legislation in the form of the Judiciary Act of 1789. This stated that all noncapital offenses were bailable. If it is a capital crime, then the possibility of bail is at the discretion of the judge. In 1966 Congress passed the Bail Reform Act. This was designed to allow for the release of defendants with as small of a financial burden as possible. There was then another reform made to the law that came in the form of the Bail Reform Act of 1984. This was because the reform made in 1966 allowed for a major loophole that allowed many dangerous suspects to receive bail as long as they didn’t appear to be flight risk. Then new law said that if defendants appeared to be dangerous to the community they should be held until trial. It also established new categories that could be held without bail. These were mainly those that had been charged with a serious crime, people that were repeat offenders, those that are potentially dangerous, and anyone that could be a flight risk. The act also stated that those eligible for bail had to have a bail hearing.

Arguments for Having Bail-

  • ·         High bails that are unaffordable keep criminals off the streets while they await trial
  • ·         After receiving a large bail for a minor crime they won’t want to commit another crime and risk getting a large bail again
  • ·         The thought of a high bail would keep people from considering committing a crime

Arguments Against Bail-

  • ·         The system is stacked against people accused of misdemeanor offenses
  • ·         They are usually unable to afford the bail terms and have to stay in jail before trial
  • ·         People receive excessive bails for minor crimes
  • ·         People that can’t afford bail have to wait in jail for a crime they may not have committed


My Personal Opinion-

            I believe that bail is a good idea but the amount of bail should depend on the severity of the crime. For example, a misdemeanor should have a low bail or no bail at all and the defendant should be on house arrest or parole until his trial while somebody charged with a major crime like murder should have a high bail or no bail at all and have to wait in a prison until his or her trial.