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Investigating the Impact of Pretrial Detention on Sentencing Outcomes

"Each time a person is arrested and accused of a crime, a decision must be made as to whether the accused person, known as the defendant, will be detained in jail awaiting trial or will be released back into the community. But pretrial detention is not simply an either-or proposition; many defendants are held for a number of days before being released at some point before their trial. The release-and-detention decision takes into account a number of different concerns, including protecting the community, the need for defendants to appear in court, and upholding the legal and constitutional rights afforded to accused persons awaiting trial. It carries enormous consequences not only for the defendant but also for the safety of the community" (p. 3). This study examines the relationship between pretrial detention and sentencing. Sections following an executive summary include: introduction; sample description; and findings for eight research questions regarding the relations between pretrial detention and sentencing. Defendants who are detained for the entire pretrial period are three times more likely to be sentenced to jail or prison and to receive longer jail and prison sentences.