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Fear Itself: The Impact of Allegations of Gang Affiliation on Pre-Trial Detention

Babe Howell

CUNY School of Law


St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 23, 2010

In courtrooms across the country, prosecutors justify demands for high bail by alleging that defendants are affiliated with gangs. The practice is deeply problematic, both because law enforcement gang lists do not accurately represent true gang membership, and because the imposition of excessive bail violates the Eighth Amendment. Moreover, the allegations are largely made against young men of color. While gangs pose real problems in society, labeling young men who reside in gang neighborhoods as gang members does nothing to address the gang problem. This article explores the basis for and the impact of allegations of gang affiliation, and proposes safeguards to ensure that allegations of gang affiliation are made only in a limited class of cases, and tested promptly by evidentiary hearing.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Gangs, Bail, Pre-trial Detention, Law

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Date posted: November 4, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Howell, Babe, Fear Itself: The Impact of Allegations of Gang Affiliation on Pre-Trial Detention (2010). St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 23, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1701899

Contact Information

Babe Howell (Contact Author)
CUNY School of Law ( email )
2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States
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