Philadelphia moving closer to ending cash bail

Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson says the compromise worked out with the First Judicial District is part of a larger effort to make it easier for people to be released while waiting for trial. (Tom  MacDonald/WHYY).

Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson says the compromise worked out with the First Judicial District is part of a larger effort to make it easier for people to be released while waiting for trial. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY).

Philadelphia will now return the entire bail amount to defendants who meet their court obligations, officials said.

A previous rule allowed the court to keep up to 30 percent of a defendant’s bail.

The move represents another step toward ending cash bail completely.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said the compromise worked out with the First Judicial District is a fairer  approach — and part of a larger effort to make it easier for people to be released while waiting for trial.

“We know some people have the ability to make bail in a timely fashion, and some people don’t. We want to use more progressive ways in making sure people come to court,” said Johnson.

Keir Bradford-Grey, the city’s chief public defender, described the cash-bail system as a vicious cycle.

“Even now, so many Philadelphians are sitting in jail because they cannot afford their bail,” she said. “Working together can create change, empower communities to play a more active role in our criminal justice system, and stop routinely incarcerating them pretrial.”

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