American bail and the tinting of criminal justice

Dean A. Dabney, Joshua Page, Volkan Topalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article analyses the history of bail in the United States in an effort to situate this institution within the general narrative of criminal justice transformation during the 19th and 20th Centuries. We identify core characteristics of American bail (commercialisation, risk assessment, and community supervision) that developed relatively early in the institution’s history. Although the structure and processes of American bail was reshaped considerably over time, the spread of neoconservative and neoliberal rationalities did not radically transform the core identity of the institution. Instead, these political logics had a ‘tinting effect’ on bail, intensifying and altering that which already existed. As such, we frame the case of bail not as a flip from the ‘old’ to the ‘new’ penology, but rather of the fusing and reshaping as old practices with new goals, justifications, and methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-418
Number of pages22
JournalHoward Journal of Crime and Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Bail
  • New penology
  • Politics
  • Pretrial justice
  • Privatisation


Dive into the research topics of 'American bail and the tinting of criminal justice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this