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Professor Jocelyn Simonson Article a Top SSRN Download For Criminal Law eJournal


The article “Bail Nullification,” by Professor Jocelyn Simonson is the current SSRN top download for Criminal Law papers. SSRN is the world’s foremost open-access repository for scholarly research. The article will appear in the Michigan Law Review later this year.

In the article, Simonson explores the growing use of community bail funds, which raise money to post bail for defendants as a way to curb and shed light on the practice of pretrial detention. Simonson argues that a community bail fund also can nullify a judge’s determination that a certain amount of the defendant’s personal or family money was necessary to ensure public safety and prevent flight. This practice of “bail nullification” is powerful, Simonson writes, because it exposes publicly what many within the system already know to be true: that for indigent defendants, bail often produces guilty pleas and longer sentences when individuals cannot afford to pay their bail.

“Community bail funds give a voice to populations who rarely have a say in how criminal justice is administered, especially poor people of color,” Simonson writes. “And the study of bail funds helps point toward other ways in which bottom-up public participation can help create a criminal justice system that is truly responsive to the communities that it is ultimately supposed to serve.”

Simonson’s essay “The Power of Community Bail Funds” appeared in the fall 2016 edition of Brooklyn Law Notes.

At the Law School, Professor Simonson teaches courses in criminal law and evidence. She is co-director of the Center for Criminal Justice. Her schol­arship explores ways in which the public participates in criminal justice processes and how that participation has the potential to lead to broader changes in the justice system. Her articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review, California Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, and NYU Review of Law & Social Change.