A Right to Liberty: Reforming Juvenile Money Bail

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) performed a qualitative study to better understand bail practices in juvenile courts at the local level, and to ensure juvenile money bail is included in the national movement on bail reform. NJDC emailed an electronic survey to a select number of juvenile defenders from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and conducted follow-up phone interviews with defenders who identified their state as expressly allowing the use of money bail and/ or identified their state as utilizing bail practices in delinquency court. While not an exhaustive survey of youth bail practices across each state, the themes that emerged from these surveys and interviews provide important insight into the court systems that require some of society’s most vulnerable children to pay money in exchange for their freedom. We learned that bail is used with shocking regularity in juvenile courts, not as a mechanism for ensuring that young people have a right to liberty, but as a means of ensuring that youth are kept behind bars without any finding of guilt.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Gault Center Publications, Policy Tool, Resource Library
Tags: Bail, National Analysis, Racial Justice