YASP leadership team members Romeeka Williams, Sarah Morris and Josh Glenn went to Washington, D.C. with City Councilman Curtis Jones and several other organizations to see how D.C. successfully ended cash bail. We were met by Cliff Keenan of the Pretrial Services Agency of D.C., who explained how the system is step up. We talked about how there were people who resisted ending cash bail but who are now accustomed to it after seeing that the judicial system works better this way.
If someone is accused of a nonviolent offense, they see a judge within 24 hours and are released. People accused of a crime of violence are usually held but after 3 to 5 days are released. As a result, there is a jail population of 1700, compared to Philadelphia’s jail population of 7500. Their county jail is only half full right now. The reason for the difference in jail populations is Philadelphia’s use of cash bail. Most people can’t afford to post bail and so are stuck in jail until their trial. The number of D.C. residents with outstanding warrants is also much lower than in Philadelphia, for similar reasons.
D.C. has also developed non-mandatory programs that can help defendants with drug issues and rehabilitation, and offer jobs and drug testing. There are people that review your cases thoroughly and get to know your personally-- our next step towards a fairer judicial system.
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