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United Way of Lancaster County


Upcoming events highlight case for bail reform, immigration reform

Michelle Batt is the founder and president of the Lancaster Bail Fund. (Source: Provided)

The community will have a chance to hear from local advocates for bail and detention reform at two events this month.

At 7 p.m. Friday, the Lancaster Bail Fund and Lancaster Neighbor Fund are hosting the screening of two mini-documentaries and a panel discussion at Zoetropolis, 112 N. Water St., Lancaster.

One documentary focuses on cash bail and its impact on defendants and their families; the other deals with U.S. immigrant detention practices. Following the films, area activists will discuss their efforts to reduce pretrial detention and reform immigration enforcement.

Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for students and seniors.

Changemaker chat

Just over a week later, at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, Lancaster Changemakers Collective will host a “Changemaker Chat” with Lancaster Bail Fund founder Michelle Batt.

It will take place at Read Rose Books, 23 N. Prince St., Lancaster; the event is free, but guests are asked to RSVP here.

About bail reform

The majority of inmates at County Prison, about 70%, are not serving sentences, but are awaiting court action. Batt and other activists contend that cash bail is imposed unfairly, adversely affects marginalized communities and does not promote public safety.

Sharply reducing or eliminating it, they argue, would allow the county to reduce the size of the correctional facility it is planning to build in Lancaster Township.
Last month, consultant CGL submitted a needs assessment projecting the county would need more than 1,200 prison beds by 2050. Officials are currently evaluating that estimate as part of the space planning process and they emphasize that no decisions on capacity have yet been made.

Listening session scheduled

A public input session for Lancaster County’s new correctional facility is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the County Government Center, 150 N. Queen St., Lancaster.

The session is the county’s second, following one in September. In case of inclement weather, the fallback date is the following evening, Thursday, Feb. 2.

About immigration reform

Calls to “abolish ICE” gained momentum during President Trump’s administration, when Immigration & Customs Enforcement dramatically stepped up the aggressiveness of its enforcement in line with Trump’s border security rhetoric. Abuse of immigration detainees is well-documented; activists say the system and the policies it serves are at odds with core American and humanitarian values and must be overhauled.