Putting a Price on Prisoner Release: The History of Bail and the Future of Parole

Shadd Maruna, Dean Dabney, Volkan Topalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


In this article, we argue that the history of bail foretells the future of parole. Under a plancalled the Conditional Post-Conviction Release Bond Act (recently passed into law inthree states), US prisoners can secure early release only after posting ‘post-convictionbail’. As with pre-trial bail, the fledgling model would require prisoners to pay a percent-age of the bail amount to secure their release under the contractual responsibility of acommercial bail agency. If release conditions are breached, bounty hunters are legallyempowered to seize and return the parolee to prison. Our inquiry outlines the origins of this post-conviction bond plan and the research upon which it is based. Drawing on the‘new penology’ framework, we identify several underlying factors that make for a ripeadvocacy environment and set the stage for widespread state-level adoption of this planin the near future. Post-conviction bail fits squarely within the growing policy trendstoward privatization, managerialism, and actuarial justice. Most importantly, though,advocates have the benefit of precedent on their side, as most US states have longrelied on a system of commercial bail bonding and private bounty hunting to manageconditional pretrial release.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-337
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • bail
  • bounty hunters
  • new penology
  • parole
  • privatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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