Susan R. Rogers

Publication Date


Document Type

Special Contribution


In recent years there has been an increasing national awareness concerning the problems of pretrial detention procedures. Shocking statistics have been forthcoming revealing the number of poor and indigent defendants who, due to insufficient funds with which to secure their release, are forced to spend weeks or months in detention facilities awaiting a determination of their guilt or innocence. These detention facilities, usually county jails, are typically overcrowded and understaffed, a situation which greatly exacerbates the already depressing conditions of incarceration. These conditions may have more far-reaching consequences than are immediately evident:

[Tihe frustration and boredom which living under these conditions induces, must have a deteriorative effect on the defendant's morale, which, in turn, may affect his desire properly to defend himself, with his despair in some cases resulting in a loss of faith in the judicial system and the entry of a plea of guilty.

Besides the psychological problems and concomitant effects on the practical situation, other aspects of pretrial incarceration may damage the defendant's case. For instance, a defendant while incarcerated is not able to contribute to his own defense in the most productive manner since he is less accessible to his attorney.5 Also, due to incarceration, a defendant loses his present income and places his job in jeopardy. The families of some defendants are forced to accept relief due to this loss of income. These results occur before any determination of guilt or innocence, so that the defendant is in reality being punished for his indigence.'