Pretrial Release Practices in the United States, 1976-1978 (ICPSR 7972)

Principal Investigator(s): Toborg, Mary A.


Funded by the National Institute of Justice, this data collection represents Phase II of a larger project to evaluate pretrial release practices. The study focuses on four major topics: (1) release--rates and types of releases, defendant or case characteristics and their impact on the release decision, (2) court appearance --extent to which released defendants appear in court, factors associated with defendants' failure to appear in court, (3) pretrial criminality--number of rearrests during the pretrial period and the factors predicting rearrest, charges and rates of conviction for crimes committed during the pretrial period, and (4) impact of pretrial release programs--effect of programs on release decisions and on the behavior of defendants. The study is limited to adult defendants processed through state and local trial courts, and to pretrial release rather than pretrial intervention or diversion programs. Part 1 is an analysis of release practices and outcomes in eight jurisdictions (Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Maryland, Washington, DC, Dade County, Florida, Jefferson County, Kentucky, Pima County, Arizona, Santa Cruz County, California, and Santa Clara County, California). The pretrial release "delivery systems," that is, the major steps and individuals and organizations in the pretrial release process, were analyzed in each jurisdiction. Additionally, a sample of defendants from each site was studied from point of arrest to final case disposition and sentencing. Part 2 of this study examines the impact of the existence of pretrial release programs on release, court appearance, and pretrial release outcomes. An experimental design was used to compare a group of defendants who participated in a pretrial release program with a control group who did not. Experiments were conducted in Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, Baltimore City, Maryland, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Jefferson County (Beaumont-Port Arthur), Texas. In Tucson, separate experiments were conducted for felony and misdemeanor cases.

Access Notes

  • 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.


DS1:  Retrospective Cities - Download All Files (11.289 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII   
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS2:  Experimental Cities - Download All Files (7.218 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII   
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   

Study Description


Toborg, Mary A. PRETRIAL RELEASE PRACTICES IN THE UNITED STATES, 1976-1978. 2nd ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1997.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (79-NI-AX-0038)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    courts, criminal histories, defendants, judicial process, pretrial hearings, pretrial procedures, pretrial release

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1976--1978

Data Type(s):    survey data and event/transaction data, experimental data


Sample:    Sites were chosen to reflect geographic dispersion, a wide range of release types, and broad eligibility for program participation.

Data Source:

(1) personal interviews, (2) defendant court indices for local jurisdictions, (3) program tracking records, (4) FBI and state rap sheets, and (5) miscellaneous documents in court or program folders that indicate a rearrest.

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-03-18

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.
  • 1997-02-25 SAS and SPSS data definition statements are now available for this collection.

Related Publications


Metadata Exports

If you're looking for collection-level metadata rather than an individual metadata record, please visit our Metadata Records page.

Download Statistics