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ACLU of PA Study Reveals Racial Disparities in Cash Bail System

Lancaster Co. Bail Fund primed to fill gaps in judicial system

  • By Marquis Lupton


Aired; May 20th, 2024.

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A recent study by the ACLU of Pennsylvania has unveiled significant racial disparities in the assignment of cash bail among accused individuals. The research highlights that 55% of Black defendants are assigned cash bail, compared to only 39% of white defendants. Additionally, Black defendants face higher bail amounts, with their average bail set nearly $13,000 more than that of their white counterparts.

This troubling pattern is consistent across all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, indicating a widespread issue within the state’s judicial system. The study underscores the severe repercussions of even short-term pretrial detention. Individuals who spend just a few days in jail can experience life-altering consequences, such as job loss, deprivation of necessary medical care, loss of child custody, and even homelessness.

Moreover, the study points to the broader societal impacts of pretrial detention and cash bail. Detained individuals are more likely to be convicted and receive longer sentences. The misuse and overuse of cash bail also correlate with an increase in crime rates, exacerbating the problem the system aims to mitigate.

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