Pretrial Detention

Topics: United States Constitution, Crime, Criminal justice Pages: 6 (2311 words) Published: October 17, 2012
Pretrial Dention
When a crime is allegedly committed an individual can be taken into custody, after the arraignment which is the formal reading of a criminal complaint in the presence of the defandant to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her. In response to arraignment, the accused criminal is then excepted to enter a plea. Then the accused may not be able to post bail/bond or even be denied realase. This indvidual must stay in jail until his court hearing, the time the person waits in jail is called pretrial detention. Today throughout the world pretrial detention has caused many issues in which this paper will look further into. Some of the issues that will be explored in this paper are how pretrial detention is causing overcrowded prisons, and how that is affecting our society. Another issue that will be looked upon is the expression “innocent until proven guilty”. There are times when a offender waits in jail until his hearing for a number of years and ends up being proved innocent. What should be done for the time lost in this person’s life for waiting in a jail cell for a crime that was never committed? These are issues that concern everyone in our society; this paper will explain possible ways to bring justice to these individuals. Pretrial detention causes all types of issues from the positive and negative effects it takes on people, overcrowded prisons, and weather or not it violates certain amendments. The reason for pretrial detention is the fear that serious criminals may re-offended while in the community. More than 20% of people arrested for murder and released on bail are arrested for new charges this is known as avertable residuals. This could have been prevented if the criminal had been behind bars. About 1/3 of released defendants are either re-arrested for a new offense, failure to appear in court or commit some other violation. Pretrial detention requires that certain dangerous defendants be confined before trial for their own and the community this decision is placed by the judge. Pretrial detention can be good for the community because it controls the future behavior of suspected criminals. However, people ask the question; Is it punishment before trial? Civil libertarians believe it violates the due process clause of the constitution because it means that a person will be held in custody by proven guilty or innocent. Other people argue that it is not punishment because why would society want criminals on the streets who potentially may not show up for their court date or may re-offend. Although pretrial detention is a good way to keep alleged criminals off the street there are many negative effects to it. For example, in Harris county jail down in Texas more than 11,500 inmates are there waiting in pretrial detention which is causing major overcrowding in prisons. In which most of the inmates crimes are possession of crack pipe or minuscule of drugs. In the constitution it guarantees the right to a speedy trial, if that is the case than why are more than 500 of these inmates in Harris county jail in pretrial detention for over a year. About 1,200 have been jailed six months or more though many face only minor felony charges, such as bouncing checks, credit card fraud, trespassing or even civil violations ( Harris County Sheriff Office, 2009). Around 200 inmates, supposedly “innocent until proven guilty”, have already served then minimum sentence for the crime they may have not even committed. There are plenty of inmates in the Harris county jail that have allegedly been convicted of non-violent crimes that still remain in the jail awaiting trial. Since the jails are so overcrowded many of these inmates end up having mattresses on the floor which they sleep on or they get sent to overcrowded cells. This is not fair to the inmates awaiting trial considering some of them may actually be proven innocent so why should they have to live like that for months and...

References: Penal Reform International: Pretrial Detention [On-line] (Retrieved November 5, 2009). Available:
Grits for Breakfast: Needless Pretrial Detention Main Cause of Harris Jail Overcrowding [On-line] (Retrieved November 5, 2009). Available:
U.S Constitution: Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10) [On-line] (Retrieved November 5, 2009). Available:
Klein, J.D. (1997). The Pretrial Detention “Crisis”: The causes and the cure. Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law, 52, 280-305.
Eason, J.M. (1988). Eighth Amendment Pretrial Detention: What will become of the innocent? Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 78 (4), 1048-1049.
Ebbesen, B.E. & Konecni, J.V. (1975). Decision Making and Information Integration in the Courts: The setting of bail. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32 (5), 805-821.
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