Now is the Time to #EndCashBail in Philly
Every day, there are thousands of people held in Philadelphia’s jails solely because they cannot afford to pay for their release. Across the country momentum is building and cities, municipalities and states are ending cash bail. The #No215Jail Coalition is demanding that Philly be the next to #EndCashBail.
Philly's jails are overcrowded
We must end the use of cash bail if we want to significantly decrease Philadelphia’s overreliance on incarceration.
Philadelphia has the fourth-highest jail population on a per capita basis among the cities and counties with the nation’s 50 largest jail populations.
A majority of Philadelphia’s prison system population consists of people awaiting trial. About 15 percent of all pretrial admissions in Philadelphia stay in prison for more than 120 days. In other jurisdictions, including the counties that include Atlanta, Chicago and Houston, 5 percent of the pretrial population stays this long. is populated mostly by people awaiting trial. For more on the problems in Philly's jails, see this report from the Pew Foundation.
By ending cash bail in Philadelphia, the city can lower the number of people in the Philadelphia jails, close down the dilapidated House of Correction, and allow people who are presumed innocent to remain at home with their families while awaiting trial.
If City Council members are concerned about the deplorable conditions at House of Correction - as they should be - they should address this immediately by implementing policy changes to significantly reduce the prison population so HOC can be closed without building a new jail. The only way to do this is by abolishing cash bail and reforming the pretrial process. This will alleviate the current human rights abuses that are occurring at HOC due to overcrowding in a faster and more substantive way than constructing a new jail to “remedy” the problem.
Wealth-based detention has disastrous consequences. It causes huge disruptions in people’s lives, often leading to loss of employment, housing, benefits and parental rights. It results in overcrowding of local jails, shockingly poor sanitation and medical care, and drained local budgets.
In Philadelphia, 20% of the bail-eligible population could be released by posting $1000 or less. 47% of bail eligible inmates could be released by posting $5,000 or less. However, many residents do not have the financial resources to obtain this amount.
Cash bail has an disproportionate effect on people of color. Further, being detained pre-trial increases the likelihood of conviction, coercing people to plead guilty just to get out of jail. No one should have to choose between their right to liberty and their right to a trial.
Cash bail also increases the likelihood of an incarceration sentence if convicted. Pre-trial incarceration also makes us all less safe. Just a few days in jail increases the likelihood of recidivism.
We envision a city and state with:
- No new jails and prisons
- Decarceration: A lower prison population in Philadelphia and across the state
- Community reinvestment: Invest in public safety by strengthening our communities. Reinvest tax dollars into accessible social services, quality education, affordable housing and healthcare, comprehensive job training and reentry services, and more.
The #No215Jail Coalition is made up of organizations including the Institute for Community Justice, Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project, Decarcerate PA, Frontline Dads, The Center for Returning Citizens, Philadelphia Student Union, X-Offenders for Community Empowerment, the Human Rights Coalition, Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER), and the Media Mobilizing Project
Get Involved: Join us or add your Organization to the list of supporting organization by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Download our Fact Sheet to Learn More about:
- Basic facts about Philadelphia Jails & Bail
- The Impact of Cash Bail
- Alternatives to Cash Bail
- Information about National Bail Reform
History of the #No215Jail Coalition
In March of 2015, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter released a “10-Year Master Plan for the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS).” The plan recommended the city close the House of Correction and build a new jail with 3000 beds, more than doubling the intended capacity of the existing facility.
We believed then and still believe that Philadelphia does not need a new jail. The House of Correction can—and should—be closed. But instead of building more jail beds, Philadelphia needs real, systemic change. We need bail reform. We need an end to stop and frisk and other racist police practices that disproportionately channel poor people and people of color into the city's jails. We need real transparency and accountability to end rampant overcharging in the District Attorney’s office and eliminate the unjust pressure on defendants to accept plea bargains. We need to address overcrowding and other human rights abuses in the Philadelphia Prison System by keeping people home while they await trial. We need systemic commitment to alternatives to incarceration that address harm, violence, and loss in our communities in ways that will lead to real transformation and healing.
That’s why Decarcerate PA – along with our allies from the Philadelphia Student Union, 1Love Movement, X-Offenders for Community Empowerment, and the Human Rights Coalition – mobilized and stopped Councilman Bobby Henon and Council from authorizing $7.2 million dollars to buy land to build a new jail. Now we are focusing on the #EndCashBail campaign. Click here for more on the successful campaign to stop the jail expansion.
Interested in being a part of the #No215Jail campaign? Contact us at 267-217-3372 or email@example.com.