Harrisburg, PA — The Dauphin County Bail Fund (DCBF) has released its new research report, Cash Bail in Dauphin County: A Six-Month Snapshot, which shows the bail-setting practices of Magisterial District Judges in Dauphin County.
Cash Bail in Dauphin County shows that in the six-month period between January and June 2022, there were 913 cases of people being held at Dauphin County Prison because they could not pay cash bail. Of those cases, six of the county’s 15 Magisterial District Judges were responsible for nearly 60%. Those MDJs were Michael J. Smith, Paul T. Zozos, David O’Leary, Hanif L. Johnson Sr., and Marian Urrutia.
Although Black people comprise less than 20% of Dauphin County residents (according to 2020 census data), they were more than 50% of those remanded to Dauphin County Prison due to inability to meet cash bail during the first half of 2022.
The report also found that MDJs – who are elected officials, not appointed – appear to not be following Pennsylvania’s legal code, which states that they must take a person’s financial ability into account when assigning bail. “That MDJs are not following these rules is frustrating and disheartening, but also unsurprising given the recent findings of other groups like the ACLU of Pennsylvania.” said Say Burgin, Secretary of Dauphin County Bail Fund. “Pretrial detention fundamentally upends the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and this report shows how frequently that principle is disregarded in Dauphin County courts.”
Cash Bail in Dauphin County is based on data compiled by local volunteers and residents due to the lack of available data from Dauphin County. “In order for residents and taxpayers to understand the economic and human toll Dauphin County Prison exacts on us all, it is imperative that the county provide data on its pretrial population.” said Louie Marven, Treasurer of Dauphin County Bail Fund. “We hope that this report can act as a catalyst for the county to increase transparency and provide the data that residents have been requesting for months”
You can find the full report here: https://dauphincountybailfund.org/cash-bail-in-dauphin-county-a-six-month-snapshot-2022/