The Berkshire Eagle  reports people facing criminal charges in Berkshire County district courts no longer will be required to post bail while awaiting trial — provided that they are not deemed flight risks.

Following through on a promise she made on the campaign trail, Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington has directed prosecutors to stop requesting that such defendants be held in lieu of bail. The policy officially was announced Friday.

In Massachusetts, the purpose of bail is to make sure that a person accused of a crime will come to court for pretrial proceedings related to their case. While bail isn't a form of punishment, because the defendants haven't yet been convicted of a crime, it can result in them being detained for long periods of time if they are unable to pay.

To ensure that those defendants who are deemed a flight risk are treated equitably, prosecutors will be required to complete a document justifying the need to require bail. These forms, which Harrington's office developed in consultation with a bail reform group, will include demographic and other information. The documents will be reviewed by supervisors as a learning tool.

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