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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Qualitative Examination of Pretrial Decision-Making in Two California Counties
by Ottone, Sarah F., M.S., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 80; 10264995
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis examines pretrial judicial decision-making, specifically the decisions to grant pretrial release and to impose bail. At bail hearings, judges must decide whether defendants should be detained, released on their own recognizance, or granted bail. In California, judges make this decision largely by relying on County Bail Schedules, which are similar to sentencing guidelines and prioritize the seriousness of the charged offense when determining bail. Pretrial detention, whether it is because the defendant is denied bail or because the defendant cannot afford the bail that was set, has negative implications, including the fact that defendants who are denied bail are more likely to plead guilty, and upon conviction are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration (Sacks & Ackerman, 2012). They also face longer sentences than defendants who are released pending trial (Free, 2004; Tartaro & Sedelmeier, 2009; Oleson, Lowenkamp, Cadigan, VonNostrand, & Wooldredge, 2014). Despite the significant impact of decisions pertaining to pretrial release, there is limited research on these decisions, including on the factors judges consider in making the bail decision. This thesis presents findings from a predominantly qualitative study of bail hearings in two California counties. Relying on court observations and interviews, the study examines the factors that influence the imposition of bail. The data indicate that the bail decision is rarely contested, and that bail is usually set in accordance with the County Bail Schedule and without regard to the ability of the defendant to pay.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Scott-Hayward, Christine S.
Commitee: Binnall, James, Choi, Alice
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Criminology, Criminal Justice and Emergency Management
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 56/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Law, Criminology
Keywords: Arraignment, Bail, Judicial decision-making, Pretrial release
Publication Number: 10264995
ISBN: 978-0-355-08164-0
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