Rethinking Federal Bail Advocacy to Change the Culture of Detention
The Champion (Journal of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers), Forthcoming
23 Pages Posted: 17 May 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2020
Date Written: May 14, 2020
The federal bail system is in crisis, with three out of every four people locked in a cage despite the presumption of innocence. Disheartening as the numbers are, we defense attorneys have the power to free our clients through zealous advocacy at bail hearings. Bond advocacy is all the more important now. As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages federal jails, pretrial release has become a matter of life or death. All of us who represent clients in federal court have a responsibility to redouble our efforts to defend our clients’ fundamental right to liberty. To change the culture of detention, we need to radically rethink our advocacy and ensure that all of the players follow the Bail Reform Act’s defense-friendly rules. This article provides statistics to illustrate the contours and costs of the federal pretrial detention crisis and action steps for bringing federal pretrial detention practices back in line with the law. We can change the culture of detention by using the action steps, tethering our arguments to the statute and the data, and filing more bond motions.
Keywords: bail, federal bail, bond, federal bond, jail, federal jail, pretrial detention, federal pretrial detention, court-watch, courtwatch, Bail Reform Act
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