Q & A: Pretrial Incarceration, Bail and Profile Based Risk Assessment in the United States
Human Rights Watch
Jun 1, 2018

Technically, the word bail refers to any device or method used by the courts to ensure that a person charged with a crime will return to court.  It could include having a respected community member vouch for that person or having the accused promise to hand over some item of property if they fail to appear.  In common usage, in the United States, bail generally refers to an amount of money, set by courts, that the accused must pay to be released while waiting to go to trial or otherwise resolve their case.  The money is held until the case is resolved, then returned to the person who paid it.

Read fact sheet

Get the newsletter