Greg Beato on Bailing Out the Bail System


Credit: Thomas Hawk / / CC BY-NC

Every day in America, the personal liberty of thousands rests upon a technology originally created in the Middle Ages. No, not semi-automatic sporting rifles, those came later. Bail. As early as the 11th century, Anglo-Saxon courts began letting persons accused of a crime avoid pre-trial detention in return for putting up some security—typically money or property—meant to guarantee their attendance when the court date finally arrives. More than 1,000 years later, the practice persists. Greg Beato argues that it's time to rethink how we deal with defendants awaiting trial.