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Publication Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants in State Courts

Thomas H. Cohen, Ph.D., Brian A. Reaves, Ph.D.

November 1, 2007    NCJ 214994

Presents findings on the pretrial release phase of the criminal justice process using data collected from a representative sample of felony cases filed in the 75 largest U.S. counties in May during even-numbered years from 1990 to 2004. It includes trends on pretrial release rates and the types of release used. Pretrial release rates are compared by arrest offense, demographic characteristics, and criminal history. Characteristics of released and detained defendants are also presented. Rates of pretrial misconduct including failure to appear and rearrest are presented by type of release, demographic characteristics, and criminal history.


  • About 3 in 5 felony defendants in the 75 largest counties were released prior to the disposition of their case.
  • Surety bond surpassed release on recognizance in 1998 as the most common type of pretrial release.
  • Defendants on financial release were more likely to make all scheduled court appearances.

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State Court Processing Statistics (SCPS)

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