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Philly D.A. Larry Krasner Ends Cash Bail for Many Offenses, Some Felonies

The new district attorney's reform train keeps rolling.

Larry KrasnerCharles Fox/TNS/NewscomLarry Krasner, the career criminal defense and civil rights attorney who took office as Philadelphia's District Attorney in January, announced yesterday that his office will no longer ask local judges to set cash bail for defendants charged with some common crimes. The decision could have a major effect on Philadelphia's pretrial jail population, which remains one of the largest in the country, although it has declined for the last two years.

As announced, the policy applies to a list of 25 specific criminal charges including retail burglary, prostitution, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest, providing false identification to law enforcement, as well as several types of drug and theft offenses. Notably, the list includes a number of crimes classified as felonies by Pennsylvania law, making this policy more expansive than similar bail reforms adopted by local prosecutors in other jurisdictions. The policy announced last month by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., for example, instructed line prosecutors to forgo bail requests only in some misdemeanor cases.

Krasner, who ran for office as a progressive reformer vowing to make the city's notoriously punitive justice system fairer for racial minorities and the poor, has moved faster on reform issues than some other D.A.s who have struck comparable tones. Since taking office in January, Krasner has purged his office of many career prosecutors, announced his support for city-sponsored 'safe injection' sites for intravenous drug users, and declined to prosecute charges of marijuana possession.

This latest move puts Philadelphia further along the road to bail reform than many jurisdictions that have cash-based bail systems. However, the city remains behind places like Washington, D.C. and New Jersey, which have eliminated posted cash bail in nearly all instances. Instead, courts in these jurisdictions make decisions about pretrial release based on individualized assessments of whether an araignee is likely to fail to appear at future court dates or poses a danger to the community, often releasing defendants accused of even violent crimes.

In Philadelphia, the implementation of such a system would require a modification of Pennsylvania law, and as such is beyond the authority of either Krasner or municipal lawmakers to implement. Last month, the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution calling upon the state legislature in Harrisburg to pass statewide bail reform legislation, but no action has been taken yet.

Nationwide, about 60 percent of all incarcerated Americans are held in pre-trial detention. Many of these inmates remain in jail not because they were denied bail based on public safety concerns, but because they could not afford to pay the amount required to obtain release. Curtailing the use of cash bail does seem to reduce pretrial incarceration over all, so Krasner's decision may well cause Philadelphia's jail population to drop. The D.A. has said he intends to take further steps to continue the effort. To guarantee that incarceration does not result from poverty alone, however, Harrisburg will need to take action.

Photo Credit: Charles Fox/TNS/Newscom

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  • Jim C.||

    I know rightists think this guy is the beginning of some kind of low level electoral coup, and will destroy the US as we know it, but there seems to be a lot to like here.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    To be honest, its the right move. Philly has cash bonds for a reason though. It could have been leftover racism or it could have been because criminals in Philly skip bail a lot.

    If crime goes up by defendants on bail, it will set back the bail reform cause decades. I don't think Philly was a good place to place our hopes and dreams of bail reform.

    Atlanta already reformed cash bail and its works okay. Atlanta is a real shithole like Philly. The difference is that you can be armed to the teeth in Atlanta under the current 2nd Amendment friendly GA State legislature.

  • MarcS||

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Under the latest UCR results, philly doesn't even rank top 25 in most violent major cities. The city is vibrant, has tons of well-paying jobs and great neighborhoods. Furthermore, the only requirement to carry a firearm in Philadelphia is having $20 and a pulse. It costs 4x as much in GA and there are less restrictions on the places you can carry here in PA

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You can constitutional carry in Philly? Doubt it.

    You don't need a license to carry in Georgia, retard.

    Philly had 317 homicides in 2017. The most since 2012.

  • MarcS||

    317 in a city of 1.6 million. Thats about 1.6 million more than whatever podunk shithole you're from

  • MarcS||

    And when did constitutional carry actually go into effect?

  • MarcS||

    Looks like they didn't. You still need a permit to carry in georgia, retard.

  • Libertymike||

    What is his policy regarding sexual assault charges, particularly the "she said" is the only evidence?

  • MarcS||

    Only rapists ever ask this question... The policy is you'll be investigated like any other alleged crime and in the absence of corroborating evidence you will not be charged.

  • Libertymike||

    Only authoritarian progtards answer the question as you did.

  • MarcS||

    The vast majority of sexual assaults arent reported, the vast majority that are reported are never charged, thw vast majority that are charged are never convicted. The question as to why you are so concerned about this fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of circumstances is valid.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He needs to move his reform crusade to a city that actually deserves it.

  • Libertymike||

    You are talking about the home of the world champion Folesadelphia Eagles!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Filthadelphia did assure that the Steelers were in sole possession of six Super Bowl wins for another year, so there's that.

  • John||

    I am interested to see how this turns out. There is no denying that a lot of injustice results from high bails. At the same time, people should not kid themselves and think everyone being held on a high bail is some innocent person. The question is how much crime if any will result from eliminating bail. I don't see how you can answer that question without eliminating bail and seeing what happens. That is what is going on here. So, let's see what happens. Whatever happens, both sides need to be honest about it. If this doesn't result in crime, then the people claiming this can't be done need to own up to being wrong. If it does, those demanding this need to own up to that.

  • Jim C.||

    Could you clarify what is meant by cash bail. It means that all bails must be posted 100% in cash?

  • John||

    It means that you have to post cash to get released. Other forms of bail are things like agreeing to report every week or to other restrictions as a condition of release that don't involve putting up cash.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Bail bondsmen do surety bonds for bail. Typically they get an unrefundable 10% as their payment. Example: $5000 bail set. You pay bail bondsman $500 and the bondsman puts up the $5000 bail and you are bailed out. if you skip bail, the bail bondsman loses the $5k bail bond or has to find you and return you to custody. After your case is done, the bail bondsman gets their $5000 back from the sheriff. The bail bondsman "makes" $500 in the deal.

    Cash bail is a bail amount set in cash. $500 bail can be paid $500 in cash and you walk out of jail on bail. You still have to show up for court. When your case is resolved, you get your $500 back. In reality the courts take your fines and fees out of that cash bail. Cash only bail is premised on the idea that people who pay cash for the full amount of bail are more likely to show up for court than if you only pay 10% to a bondsman.

    Own recognizance bail is that the jail releases you without an amount needed or you are released on your word that you will show up for court.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Bail should not be excessive and keeping pre-trial detainees in jail pending trial just because is not only unconstitutional but wrong. Everyone arrested should get a chance for cheap bail or own recognizance but if they commit another crime on bail, they should get no bail or set the amount high but not excessive.

    I predict crime will go up in Philly but it will be interesting to see the effects.

    Its a shame that is was a Democrat who pulled this off and will get the credit. Of course, if crime goes up because defendants are committing the crimes, he should get all the blame too.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Its a shame that is was a Democrat who pulled this off and will get the credit.

    Yes, it's terrible when a member of the Other Team turns out to not be an inhuman monster.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I am sure he is still a lying, conspiring, piece of shit. He's a Democrat. Plenty of lying, conspiring, pieces of shit in the GOP too.

    His one action to reform excessive bail (unconstitutional anyway), is more Libertarian than anything.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I know YOU think there are only Team Blue and Team Red.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    With projection this strong, you could be showing movies on the surface of the moon.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I will be able to see you on Mars from my vantage point on the Moon.

    Project much?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Your comeback is so devoid of understanding that i'm at a loss as to how to respond to it. Congratulations, i guess.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    We all worked together to get to this point.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Figures. Would you like me to explain it to you?

    Keep up the good work Citizen.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Don't get cocky, lc. You just "won" a round of checkers by eating several pieces and then running headfirst into a wall.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    mumble mumble which is checkers Winner for King Me!

  • MarcS||

    Crime has been plummeting in philly for a decade. I don't see this trend changing because we stop imprisoning non-violent offenders without due process

  • Libertymike||

    Stop imprisoning those accused of hate crimes. Stop imprisoning those accused of sexual assault or making some femme-Nazi feel offended or unsafe.

  • MarcS||

    People don't get imprisoned for those things. If you are accused of a crime and there is not sufficient evidence to warrant probable cause to detain you, you don't go to jail.

  • MarcS||

    Also, the two things that you mentioned that are crimes are violent felonies, which isn't what krasner is suggesting we remove pre-trial detention for

  • Libertymike||

    John's post at 12:25 is a good, realistic assessment of the subject.

  • John||

    Thanks. Both sides of these issues often fall just as deeply into opposite ditches. The law and order types act like there could never be an issue with the system and everyone who gets arrested must be getting exactly what they deserve. The reformers act like prisons are inhabited entirely by innocent people. The truth, as it always is, is a bit more complex than the activists want to believe it is.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is where Libertarians can really get our positions out for Americans.

    We tend to be anti-War on Drugs and pro-Constitution, unlike Democrats and Republicans.

    Libertarians can take this opportunity to get the US criminal justice system to be as much of a corrupt-free and Due Process type of system that we can make it.

  • DajjaI||

    So in other words, 'crime' is a myth. OK got it.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Please explain how you came up with that reading. I am truly curious what about Libertymike or John's post made you think this is what they were saying?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why bother?

  • John||

    I am with you on that. If you are caught with drugs or not paying a fine or some BS, fine. But if you are out stealing, fuck you, come up with some bail.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Burglary is distinct from theft under Pennsylvania law. Hence the inclusion of "retail burglary," which would be breaking into a retail establishment for any illegal purpose, not necessarily to steal something.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    "Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle" and "several types of... theft offenses," from your quote above, are also not victimless crimes.

    Ideally, there would be a system for evaluating the likelihood of a repeat offense before determining whether or not a particular suspect had to pay cash bail.

  • MarcS||

    As a libertarian, shouldn't you consider retail theft a civil matter? It's your responsibility to secure your business from theft.

  • Jerryskids||

    Notably, the list includes a number of crimes classified as felonies by Pennsylvania law, making this policy more expensive than similar bail reforms adopted by local prosecutors in other jurisdictions.

    I'm sure it will cause the prison-industrial complex a good chunk of easy money, but I'm not going to shed any tears over those bastards making money off the misery of others.

  • Jerryskids||

    ^^^Conspiracy theory evidence that Alec is John.^^^

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