The City of Philadelphia, by eliminating the cash bail system, could save the city over $75 million annually and provide a viable alternative to jail for a significant number of those arrested in Philadelphia in a given year. Since 2015, Philadelphia jail populations have declined almost 20 percent, from 8,301 in January 2015 to 6,820 in June 2017.1 This is the lowest population since 1999. 2 Much of this decline can be attributed to the implementation of various MacArthur Initiatives launched by the City since 2015. Notwithstanding, of the nearly 6,700 men and women still incarcerated in Philadelphia, three in every ten are held pre-trial because they cannot afford the cash bail. Of those, one in three are held on less than $5,000, of which the City will ultimately retain only $1,500. According to Pew Charitable Trust’s Philadelphia Research Initiative, more than half remain for longer than 30 days. Sometimes exceeding 180 days, the direct costs of incarceration can exceed $20,700 for a single bed.
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