By Angelina Sang
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner announced this week charges against Tarik Bey, and used Bey’s case to demonstrate the inadequacy of the cash bail system at maintaining public safety.
Bey has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, two counts of simple assault, and related firearm offenses after he shot two individuals in April 2020.
By the time law enforcement concluded Bey’s investigation and obtained an arrest warrant in May 2021, Bey had already fled the area. It wasn’t until this month that Bey was found and taken into custody for his trial.
Even though Bey had already fled, he was still offered bail. The Magistrate initially set Bey’s bail at $175,000 —which Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Palmer argued should be raised to $999,000 as Bey posed a threat to the community.
When the bail decision was appealed to an emergency Municipal Court judge, however, Bey’s bail was actually lowered to $50,000.
Unsurprisingly, Bey paid his bail and then fled again until he was caught and brought back into custody.
DA Krasner used Bey’s case as a prime example of the dangers of the cash bail system.
From his election in 2017, Krasner has pursued progressive reforms in the criminal justice system, seeking to hold police accountable for misconduct, rein in the practice of civil asset forfeiture, decriminalize minor offenses, improve outcomes for youth in the criminal justice system, and abolish the cash bail system.
The cash bail system, a system in which the court decides a specified amount an individual must pay in order to be released from detention prior to trial, has been under scrutiny for some time now. Washington, D.C., has taken steps since the 1960s to eliminate cash bail, as well as New Jersey and Harris County, Texas.
Those who wish to abolish the cash bail system maintain that it “criminalizes the poor,” as those who cannot pay their bail are detained until their trial while those with the means to pay bail—even if they are guilty and a community danger—are able to get themselves out.
Taking this into account, Krasner argues to abolish the bail system, yet still wants a way to detain certain serious offenders prior to their trials. He proposes abolishing bail for most cases, and using $1 million bails for serious ones.
Krasner maintained the inadequacy of the cash bail system, using Bey’s case as an example, saying, “This defendant’s case is a stark example of why a money bail system simply fails to ensure public safety, particularly during a gun violence crisis that is being felt here in Philly and across our nation.
“Other jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, are seeing very good success with a cashless system,” said Krasner.
“Rather than pursue baseless investigations into a presidential election that was conducted properly and won squarely, or attempt to impose more mandatory minimums that simply drive mass incarceration and do nothing to improve public safety, our state’s Republican-controlled legislature should be working to do away with a cash-based bail system. It’s the right thing to do for public safety. It’s the right thing to do if we truly want a more effective and fairer criminal justice system,” he added.