Whether a defendant is locked up in jail or out on bail significantly impacts the lawyer’s ability to represent the client. Visiting someone in a jail facility quickly becomes an arduous process and often interferes with several important aspects of the attorney/client relationship.
Privacy and full disclosure are often compromised because the lawyer can never be sure that his conversations are not being intercepted or listened to. Practical considerations such as limited visiting hours, geographical distances between the attorney’s office and the jail, prohibitions against bringing assistants along to the visits, taking equipment to the meeting (such as laptops, recorders, phones, cameras, etc.), often diminish the quality of the representation.
It is no wonder why a defendant is more likely to be convicted when he or she is locked up. Researchers have discovered that “pretrial detention makes defendant/detainees more liable to plead guilty by 27.5 percent and more liable to be found guilty by a jury by 27.3 percent.”
Over 20 percent of the accused in the U.S. are locked up waiting for their trials or dispositions. Significantly, while pretrial detention significantly increases the probability of a conviction, there is no corresponding positive impact on the reduction of crime in the country. Indeed, studies have shown that being locked up pending disposition works to destroy existing jobs, employment prospects, educational opportunities and kills family units.
The overuse of pretrial detention severely hampers almost all aspects of the criminal justice system. Judges are often loathed to set reasonable bails less they become viewed as being “soft on crime.” Appellate courts also tend to refrain from interfering with bail decisions by giving the trial judge too much difference. In the end, everyone suffers from excessive pretrial detentions.