American Economic Journal: Applied Economics
no. 3, July 2023
Courts routinely use low cash bail as a financial incentive to ensure released defendants appear in court and abstain from crime. This can create burdens for defendants with little empirical evidence on its efficacy. We exploit a prosecutor-driven reform that led to a sharp reduction in low cash bail and pretrial supervision, with no effect on pretrial detention, to test whether such incentive mechanisms succeed at their intended purpose. We find no evidence that financial collateral has a deterrent effect on failure to appear or pretrial crime. This paper also contributes to the literature on legal actor discretion, showing that nonbinding reforms may have limited impact on jail populations.
Ouss, Aurélie, and Megan Stevenson.
"Does Cash Bail Deter Misconduct?"
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law