HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Bill 2046 today, legislation that would require community bail funds to be licensed as professional bail bondsmen, an onerous process that would make it very difficult for bail funds across the commonwealth to continue operating and would likely lead to these charitable organizations being shut down.
Community bail funds are typically non-profit, volunteer-driven charitable organizations that raise money to post monetary bail for people detained pretrial, typically those who cannot afford to post bail or who may have been detained during mass arrests following protests. Community bail funds determine their own eligibility criteria and amount of bail they can support. Currently, there are eight bail funds across Pennsylvania.
“Community bail funds are a charity, like a soup kitchen or a shelter. It is abhorrent that state lawmakers would pass legislation that could end up shuttering these organizations,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Pretrial detention can ruin lives, and it is often only the work of community bail funds that prevents people who cannot afford bail from having their lives ruined before they’ve ever been convicted of a crime, particularly Black and brown people. This bill should be dead on arrival in the state Senate.”
“This legislation is a solution in search of a problem,” said Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “It is unclear what problem this bill intends to fix, unless the purpose of the bill is to ensure that more people remain incarcerated because they can’t afford to post bail.”
The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
You can find more information about H.B.2046 here.