Philadelphia's Reformer District Attorney Does It Again by Ending Cash Bail for Low-Level Offenses


Last week, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced his office would no longer pursue charges for marijuana possession, and dropped charges for 51 people en masse.

Krasner did it again on Wednesday, announcing that his office will end cash bail requirements for people charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses. The change was effective immediately.

“There is absolutely no reason why someone who will show up for court, is not a flight risk, and is no threat to their neighbors and community, needs to sit in jail for days because they can’t post a small amount of bail,” Krasner told NBC Philadelphia.

He’s right: Cash bail is a predatory system that targets poor people. People who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime make up 70 percent of the U.S. jail population. On any given day in the United States, more than half a million people are sitting in jail ahead of their trial. The large share of those people remain in jail for the simple fact that they cannot afford to pay their way out.

Here is a list of the charges that will no longer require cash bail:

The expansion of cash bail has also had a huge effect on the ballooning of the U.S. prison population. As The Nation’s Bryce Covert wrote in October:

Nearly all of the growth in our jail population over the past 30 years is due to the detention of those not yet convicted of any crime. The number of Americans sitting in jail without a conviction is larger than most other countries’ entire incarcerated population.

Right now, Philadelphia is offering a master class in how district attorneys’ offices across the United States should be run: not as another appendage to the carceral state, but one that checks police power and advocates for the overpoliced. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also proposed ending cash bail for nonviolent charges.

Krasner is far from done with his vision for reforming the criminal justice system in Philadelphia. He’s also pledged to take on civil asset forfeiture, stop-and-frisk, death penalty sentences, and deportation. The Philadelphia DA’s office is also implementing a local agenda that supports residents’ civil rights and offers restorative justice to people of color, poor people, and otherwise marginalized and stigmatized populations.

Larry Krasner: I hereby nominate you as a Splinter Hero™. Keep up the good work, bud.

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