First Advisor

Charles Tracy

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Pre-trial release -- Oregon -- Multnomah County, Pre-trial release -- Oregon -- Washington County, Pre-trial release -- Oregon -- Yamhill County



Physical Description

2, iv, 168 leaves 28 cm.


Pretrial release (PTR) is the permanent or temporary freedom from incarceration for criminal defendants awaiting adjudication of their cases in court. From Anglo Saxon times in England, people accused of non-capital crimes were generally permitted to remain free until judicial officials could hear the charges against them. In America, pretrial release has been advocated by the courts since the colonial era. The U. S. Constitution requires that bail not be excessive, but leaves governments free to decide how bail laws are administered. The study briefly traces the historical developments of PTR up to the present time. The study then centers on the PTR process of three Oregon counties (Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill) and observes the decisions of judges, release assistance officers, and jailers in relation to the release outcomes for a study group (N=619) who were booked into jails of the three counties in 1993. Background data on defendants in the study include gender, race, the crimes for which they were arrested, criminal history, and the disposition of the current charges. Seventy-one percent of the defendants received PTR. Significant factors in the release outcome, as shown by logistic and multiple regression analyses, were probation violation status, felony in the current charge, narcotics offenses in the current charge, and charged with multiple offenses. Gender and race were not strong influences on the release outcome. Hispanic defendants (N = 108) in the study, however, were detained in jail longer than Whites (N=394). Hispanics were less likely than Whites to be released on the same day of arrest and served generally longer jail terms than Whites under similar sentences. Possible explanations are that Hispanics were more frequently charged with distributing narcotics and charged with multiple offenses. Implications suggest further studies on minorities in judicial and corrections settings. The study has applications in judicial and corrections policies on the early release of inmates, an important issue as jails become increasingly overcrowded.


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