ACLU Demands Criminal Justice Reform

Local Activists Join in Smart Justice Pennsylvania

Joe DeStio
July 26, 2018 - 1:45 pm
The American Civil Liberties Union and local activists are launching a campaign to reform the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania.

Joe DeStio

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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – The American Civil Liberties Union and local activists are launching a campaign to reform the criminal justice system in Pennsylvania. Called Smart Justice Pennsylvania, the campaign aims to end cash bail, reform sentencing and probation, and educate the public on the powers of the District Attorney.

ACLU-PA Executive Director Reggie Shuford says, “We are in the midst of a crisis that demands bold action.” Shuford presented statistics showing about 50 percent of people held in the Allegheny County jail are Black while only 13 percent of the county’s population is African-American.

He and other activists held a news conference on the Grand Staircase of the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Regarding cash bail, The ACLU’s Terrel Thomas says poor people who don’t have the cash end up staying in jail far longer than people with financial resources. He says 80 percent of individuals charged with a crime show up for their hearing whether or not they are required to produce cash for bail.

Shuford says the campaign hopes to work with local District Attorneys to help reform the system. He says people ultimately have the power to vote them out of office.