Its jails bursting, Philly seeks bail system changes

More than 7,800 men and women sit in Philadelphia’s overcrowded jails, three-quarters of them awaiting trial.

That’s because they’re detained under a bail system that critics call outmoded and one that cities and the White House are working to change.

A recent tally of the daily Philadelphia jail population showed hundreds of inmates including nonviolent and first-time offenders would be free if there were alternatives to bail.

It’s a national issue that is increasingly seen as both a moral and economic imperative that puts a huge cost burden on municipal budgets.

Philadelphia has an ambitious goal of cutting the jail population by a third over the next three years.

On Thursday, the White House and Justice Department are meeting to discuss criminal justice practices, including in the bail system.

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