Pretrial Release Data, 1969 (ICPSR 7538)

Published: Feb 16, 1992

Principal Investigator(s):
Stuart S. Nagel; Paul Wice; Marian Neff

Version V1

This data collection contains information gathered about pretrial release policies, procedures, and outcomes in a 1969 survey of police chiefs, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and bail project directors in 72 cities across the United States (with a higher proportion in Illinois). The research objectives included: (1) developing a model designed to determine the optimum percentage of defendants to hold prior to trial, (2) developing a model designed to make decisions on whether a defendant should be released or held in jail prior to trial, (3) comparing cities having bail reform projects with cities not having them, (4) comparing cities that required arrested persons to provide 10 percent of the bond with cities requiring 100 percent of the bond, and (5) determining the causes and effects of variations across cities in the percentage of defendants held in jail prior to trial. The survey focused on the processing of arrested persons prior to trial. Respondents answered questions about the organization and procedures in pretrial release, supplied approximate statistical data (e.g., percent of arraigned individuals who were released prior to their trial and failed to appear in court for their trial), estimated statistical trends in pretrial release during the previous five years, reported on attitudes in their communities toward administration of bail, rated the importance of several criteria when determining if a defendant was to be allowed pretrial release, and indicated whether their city had a bail reform program, and if so, its characteristics. Demographic data (ranging from population to income to crime rates) about the 72 cities represented in the survey are also included in the file.

Nagel, Stuart S., Wice, Paul, and Neff, Marian. Pretrial Release Data, 1969. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1992-02-16.

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In a sampling of 80 cities, 280 prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and bail project directors in the cities were sent questionnaires. The 80 cities consisted of 35 with bail reform projects that emphasized systematic screening for pretrial release on recognizance and 35 similar in population and region without bail reform projects, since much of the questionnaire was designed to determine the causes and effects of bail reform. Ten additional cities were included as part of an oversampling for the state of Illinois in order to determine the effects of the Illinois system whereby a defendant could be released pending trial by posting 10 percent of the bond. Of those who were mailed them, 156 respondents, or 56 percent, sent back usable questionnaires, with at least one representative from 72 of the 80 cities sampled. The questionnaire recipients were determined by consulting such directories as the AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION CRIMINAL LAW DIRECTORY and the MARTINDALE-HUBBELL LEGAL DICTIONARY.

Police chiefs, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and bail project directors in 72 cities across the United States.

self-enumerated questionnaires, and standard sources providing demographic characteristics of cities

survey data and aggregate data




  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.