Would you rather spend a day in jail or be the victim of a burglary? That question kicked off a research project for Professor Megan Stevenson revealing the true costs of pretrial detention, which she discusses on the latest “Common Law,” a podcast of the University of Virginia School of Law.
In “Pretrial Detention and the Value of Liberty,” a paper co-authored with University of Pennsylvania law professor Sandra G. Mayson, Stevenson considers how dangerous a person must be to justify detaining them in jail before trial.
The authors created a novel survey that asks participants to consider whether they would rather spend time in jail or be the victim of various crimes. The results showed how averse people are to being jailed, and offer a stark contrast to the U.S. criminal justice system, which locks up about a half million Americans in pretrial detention on any given day.
Stevenson is an economist and criminal justice scholar who conducts empirical research on various areas of reform, including bail, algorithmic risk assessment, misdemeanors and juvenile justice.
Stevenson and hosts Risa Goluboff and Danielle K. Citron also discuss how the U.S. began detaining defendants in anticipation of future crime, the history of bail and the use of risk-assessment tools when determining bail.
This season, called “Co-Counsel” features a rotating set of co-hosts: Citron, John C. Harrison, Cathy Hwang and Gregory Mitchell. Each is joining Goluboff to discuss cutting-edge research on law topics of their choice.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.