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Every day, Pennsylvania incarcerates tens of thousands of people in county jails, more than half of whom have not been convicted of a crime. People sit in small cells for weeks or months and even years on end, simply because they cannot afford to pay cash bail.
When a person is incarcerated before their trial, they lose more than just their liberty — even after just a few days in jail, a person can lose their job, access to medical care, custody of their children, and even their homes. Cash bail is a primary driver of pretrial incarceration. When assigned cash bail, an accused person must pay a sum of money as collateral against a future court appearance in order to obtain their release.
This website is a companion to the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s report, Broken Rules: How Pennsylvania Courts Use Cash Bail to Incarcerate People Before Trial, which is based on a two-year bail dataset from 2016 to 2017. Read the report to learn more and explore this website to dive into the data.