The Cost of Buying Freedom: Strategies for Cash Bail Reform and Eliminating Systemic Injustice

Justice Lab students John Farrell, Paige Joki, and Adorah Nworah have authored The Cost of Buying Freedom: Strategies for Cash Bail Reform and Eliminating Systemic Injustice, on behalf of Redeemed PA, a community organization advocating for criminal justice reform.

This report outlines the dangers of the cash bail system to Pennsylvania communities and justice systems, as well as the enormous burden it places on the state. It also lays out achievable methods of reform, including immediate steps that Philadelphia can take to end cash bail today.

Working in conjunction with Redeemed PA, Justice Lab students researched Pennsylvania law, Philadelphia practices, comparative jurisdictions, and gathered community input to capture the failures of the cash bail system, the racial and economic inequality it perpetuates in Philadelphia, its failure to keep our communities safe, and the fact that Philadelphia can stop this practice today.

Cash bail forces thousands of people into jails where they lose jobs, opportunity, and family support. Cash bail does not make our communities safer. Instead, it makes freedom available only to those who can buy it. More effective, less expensive alternatives are available. This report details how Philadelphia can act immediately to end cash bail, save taxpayer dollars, aid public safety, and move thousands of lives forward.

Urgent Appeal to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Fifty-nine organizations, including the Sheller Center for Social Justice, filed an Urgent Appeal with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention about the detention of immigrant families in Berks County. Law students with the Social Justice Lawyering Clinic, John Farrell, Anthony Sierzega, Mariya Tsalkovich, worked with Juntos, a local grassroots advocacy organization to draft the appeal. Anthony Sierzega explains, “sending an Urgent Action Appeal to the UN Working Group is an opportunity to demand justice for migrant families seeking safety and opportunity in the United States and to draw international attention to the disturbing human right abuses that our country continues to endorse.” See the Philadelphia Inquirer and WHYY Newsworks stories that feature Temple law students arguing that families have been arbitrarily detained by the U.S. in violation of international law.

Urgent Action Appeal to UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention