Every day, judges across America face defendants who have been arrested and who come before the court for arraignment. After setting a defendant’s court date, which could be months into the future, judges must decide the immediate fate of that defendant. Should that person await trial in jail, or can he or she be safely released? In order to make this decision, judges rely on their own instincts and on the limited information they have on hand. Many use a bail schedule, a chart that designates a specific money bail amount for each criminal charge.

This means that, in many jurisdictions, money becomes a proxy for risk. Those who can afford to make bail buy their way out of jail, while those who can’t remain locked up. We have seen time and again the results of this flawed system.

Preliminary data indicate that the PSA has the potential to produce a positive impact....More people who belong in jail are behind bars, while more who don’t are released on their own recognizance. This means the system is fairer and the community is safer.

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