‘Preventive Detention’ Is Found Constitutional

1987

Concerned about an increase in crime, Congress passes the Bail Reform Act of 1984, which for the first time allows suspects to be detained solely on an appearance of dangerousness. In United States v. Salerno, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Bail Reform Act of 1984, finding that it does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “excessive” bail. The Court rejects the defendant’s argument that the only consideration in setting bail should be figuring out how much money will be enough to prevent a defendant from fleeing before trial. Instead, the Court finds that protection of the public also can be a basis for determining the level of bail, or even for denying bail entirely.