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The Bail Book

Book description

Mass incarceration is one of the greatest social problems facing the United States today. America incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than any other country and is one of only two countries that requires arrested individuals to pay bail to be released from jail while awaiting trial. After arrest, the bail decision is the single most important cause of mass incarceration, yet this decision is often neglected since it is made in less than two minutes. Shima Baradaran Baughman draws on constitutional rights and new empirical research to show how we can reform bail in America. Tracing the history of bail, she demonstrates how it has become an oppressive tool of the courts that disadvantages minority and poor defendants and shows how we can reform bail to alleviate mass incarceration. By implementing these reforms, she argues, we can restore constitutional rights and release more defendants, while lowering crime rates.


'Shima Baradaran Baughman has written a thoughtful and comprehensive study of an often-overlooked aspect of the criminal justice system. The Bail Book is an important work that should be required reading for criminal justice reformers.'

Orin Kerr - Frances R. and John J. Duggan Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Southern Carolina Law School

'This book is a brilliant exposé of pretrial detention in the United States. It documents a subterranean regime that needlessly incarcerates thousands of individuals, most of them poor, many of them innocent, and a disproportionate number of them black, because the bail industry profits from it and legislators and judges either will not mandate, or are ignorant of, the legal and scientific tools that can address the problem.'

Christopher Slobogin - Milton Underwood Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee

'Civil libertarians will predictably love this homage to the Eighth (and Sixth) Amendments but what may be less obvious is why the book is valuable to those of us committed to promoting justice and preventing injustice. Professor Shima Baradaran Baughman shows how more informed and thoughtful pretrial release decisions can reduce crime and avoid wrongful convictions. I recommend the book to anyone who cares about both fairness and justice.'

Paul H. Robinson - Colin S. Diver Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania, author of Shadow Vigilantes: How Distrust in the Justice System Breeds a New Kind of Lawlessness (2018)

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