According to the Vera Institute of Justice, Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to end cash bail on Thursday—a system that overwhelmingly punishes poor offenders by forcing them to stay in jail while they await trial after an arrest.
Recently elected District Attorney Larry Krasner has been leading the council on pressing issues of criminal justice reform, along with council member Curtis Jones Jr.
According to The Philadelphia Tribune, Jones said during the council session last week, “I’m calling for an end to the cash bail system in the city of Philadelphia.”
Mr. President [Darrell Clarke] in our research we found out that a cash bail system came from a 1,000 year old medieval system that was created to make sure that they knew, even then, that jails were too costly. And so we should let the accuser go if they were not a danger to themselves or society. And then someone would ensure that they would return to face trial. That’s a 1,000 year old medieval system that hasn’t changed much.
Ending cash bail has been widely mentioned in discussions on criminal justice reform across the country. Last December, The Huffington Post, wrote that “money bail schemes harms low-income citizens” and they noted that the U.S. is one of just two countries that continues to use a cash bail system (the other being the Philippines). Also recently in the The Washington Post, former chief judge of the state of New York Jonathan Lippman commented on cash bail, saying, “we shouldn’t be limiting judges’ options; we should be expanding them.”