By Antoine Goldet.
On paper, bail is pretty simple. You are charged with a crime, and the court asks you for an amount of money as bond, and then returns it when you show up for the hearing. If you have the money, you can go home and prepare an adequate defense. But what if you can’t make bail?
A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which analyzed over 420,000 cases in Philadelphia and Miami-Dade counties, found that being incarcerated before trial significantly increases the likelihood of being convicted.
The researchers concluded that pretrial detention makes defendants more likely to plead guilty by 27.5 percent and more likely to be found guilty by a jury by 27.3 percent.
Rodney Roberts was one of these detained defendants. Before he agreed to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, he had already spent several weeks locked-up in the Essex County jail in New Jersey.
Roberts, then a 29-year-old salesman and father from Newark, had been arrested for a parole violation and subsequently charged with aggravated sexual assault. The court had set bail at $50,000, and he was unable to pay.