Ten local fathers received a nice surprise on Thursday morning when they were notified their bail had been met and they were coming home to be with their loved ones in time for Father’s Day.
The Philadelphia Community Bail Fund (PCBF), a branch of the National Bail Out Movement, began bailing out the incarcerated fathers not convicted of a crime but unable to pay their bail at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
“We are just happy that we can help these men return to their family and loved ones in time for Father’s Day,” said Candace McKinley, a local organizer with PCBF said.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. Just this past Mother’s Day, PCBF raised close to $60,000 and used a portion of those funds to provide bail for 13 women.
The local branch set a goal of raising $25,000 for the Thursday, in addition to the money that remained after Mother’s Day.
According to McKinley, the group raised $8,000. McKinley said there are about 20 local National Bail Out branches.
National Bail Out began operation in 2017. In addition to raising bail for the incarcerated on Mother’s and Father’s Day, the organization also bails out people on Valentine’s Day.
Cash bail in the city remains a critical part of the criminal justice reform platform. The city conducts close to 60,000 bail hearings a year. The hearings usually occur within 20 hours of the arrest.
In a nutshell, a magistrate attaches a cash amount to a defendant and that defendant either can make bail or they cannot. If the amount is unattainable, chances are good that the defendant will remain in jail until their trial date arrives.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that pre-trial detention significantly increases the likelihood of a defendant pleading guilty or being found guilty. It is estimated that the annual costs of detaining those not convicted of a crime is about $9 billion.
“This can be devastating for a person and their family,” McKinley said. “You can just be stuck sitting in jail and your life can come apart as you wait for your trial. You can lose your job; you don’t have money to pay your rent or your mortgage. And if you have a family, who is going to be there to step in and help out? That is what we try to do.”
One of the stated goals of District Attorney Larry Krasner is the elimination of cash bail.
Earlier this year, Krasner announced prosecutors would no longer seek cash bail for people accused of some misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, a significant policy shift that could have wide-ranging impact on the city’s criminal justice system.
“This is an ongoing movement that is going to continue to fight for reform in the criminal justice system,” McKinley said.