This article is excerpted from Programs in Criminal Justice Reform, Vera Institute of Justice: Ten-Year Report 1961–1971, published by the Vera Institute of Justice in 1972. In 1961, Vera's investigators set out to learn everything possible about bail practices and about other studies that had been undertaken on this subject. What was needed was a carefully designed project that would open the way for adoption of new procedures that would circumvent the bail bond industry, develop information about defendants enabling the courts to grant release to good risks, and, most of all, begin providing the indigent accused with the fairness that the American system of rights and liberties promised. If the experiment validated the premise that defendants with verifiable community ties could be released on their own recognizance far more often than anyone suggested, then pressure for widespread adoption of the idea would be hard to resist.

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