What did the 1984 Bail Reform Act do?
The Bail Reform Act of 1984 replaced the Bail Reform Act of 1964. The Constitution provides that American citizens have the right to bail that they can afford, in the majority of the non-capital cases. Unfortunately, the Bail Reform Act of 1964 left judges no choice but to turn individuals who might be dangerous to the public out on bail. The Bail Reform Act of 1984 "fixed" this problem by establishing under what conditions a judge should consider keeping the person in jail pending trial rather than allowing them out on bond.
Under the 1984 Act, the judge holds a hearing on whether or not the individual is likely to be dangerous to members of the community, if the individual has more than one conviction, is subject to a drug conviction that would keep them in jail 10 years or more, is likely to flee the area, or to tamper with witnesses and try to obstruct justice. The hearing is held as soon as possible, preferably when the person first goes to court.
In keeping with the Constitutional rights of the charged person, the judge cannot deny bail frivolously. Thus, the judge has to provide a statement as to why the person's bail is being denied, called a finding of fact.