Returning to Court: A Multi-Paper Dissertation on Failure to Appear and Commercial Bail Bonds
Russell, Amanda L
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The early stage at which bail occurs within the criminal justice system necessitates the effective applications of both bail and pretrial release. An ineffective system of release has the potential to impact subsequent criminal justice processes as well as the processes that precede it. Commercial bail (surety) bonds and the companies writing these bonds are but only one aspect of pretrial release; however, they are becoming increasingly relevant to the conversation on the state of pretrial release, especially in regard to best practices and returned court appearances. Nevertheless, there is limited empirical research specific to commercial bail. Thus, the following multi-paper dissertation attempts to fill several research gaps in the literature yet to be empirically assessed. To provide a descriptive context for the practical-based studies in Chapters 3 and 4, Chapter 1 provides an overview of bail, pretrial release, and commercial bail bonds. Following, Chapter 2 describes the history of bail in the United States and how it has evolved since its transplantation in colonial America. In Chapter 3, two primary issues are addressed. First, using multilevel modeling, it examines defendant failure to appear (FTA) rates between privately-operated bail bond companies to identify any statistical between-group differences. It also explores if any aspects of the individual company affect these rates. Finally, Chapter 4 looks at the factors related to the likelihood of FTA for surety bond defendants. Specific focus is placed on exploring the effects of community ties, accessibility, and financial stability, controlling for additional extra-legal and legal factors.