HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy
Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice, HKS; Professor of Sociology, FAS; Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor, Radcliffe


This report discusses cash bail reforms that have occurred in the United States and provides key considerations for people interested in implementing bail reforms in their jurisdiction. Based on a landscape analysis of bail reforms across all 50 states, we identify the four main actors who take the lead on adopting bail reforms, as well as specific reforms they have implemented. We also consider different processes bail reform actors follow to implement reforms. We then share eight trends in the impacts of bail reforms from 12 jurisdictions where there has been thorough analysis of the reforms. Next, we lay out six criteria that equitable and effective bail reforms should satisfy and provide New Jersey as a case study. We conclude by discussing concerning elements of bail reforms that policy actors should be wary of when designing changes to the cash bail system.


Jorgensen, Isabella, and Sandra Susan Smith. "The Current State of Bail Reform in the United States: Results of a Landscape Analysis of Bail Reforms Across All 50 States." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP21-033, December 2021.