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Protesters in Lancaster hit with $1 million cash bail


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Your Postmaster: Ed Mahon
September 17, 2020
Big-time bail, Big Ten back in action, REAL IDs get real again, a COVID-19 store, and some good news for Gov. Tom Wolf. Happy Thursday.
$1,000,000 bail.

It's a number that has received a lot of attention. The New York Post called it a "whopping" amount. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, called it "blatantly unconstitutional." A conservative 
commentator received more than 33,000 likes on Twitter after he called it an effective response to rioting.

The debate comes after a magisterial district judge in Lancaster County set bail at $1 million apiece for several of the defendants facing rioting and vandalism charges, following a protest that began Sunday evening after a city police officer killed a 27-year-old man. The same judge is set to hear bail modification requests today. These Lancaster County cases are the latest example of the debate over the role of cash bail in the criminal justice system. 

The Context: The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says excessive bail shall not be required. The American Bar Association, which has advocated for changes to the bail system, says bail is not supposed to be used as a punishment. The goal is to make sure defendants show up to court. But there's often debate about how judges use it.

In 2018, I was working in York County when a district judge set bail at $225,000 for an 18-year-old high school student who was charged with a misdemeanor count of terroristic threats. The student, who was Black, had a significantly higher bail amount than three white students who were accused of making threats in separate cases. 

In a 2019 lawsuit challenging Philadelphia's cash bail practices, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and allies argued that judges sometimes imposed high cash bail to ensure defendants remain incarcerated before their trial. In July, the state Supreme Court declined to force courts there to change their practices.

My 13-year-old has started drinking coffee, and I don’t know whether that’s a good parenting decision or a bad parenting decision." 

Christina Jarosz, a mother in the Hatboro-Horsham School District in Montgomery County, on the challenges her children are facing as they adjust to virtual classes.
POST IT: Just in time for Halloween, @moneymc91_ shares an eerie picture of a bridge in Berks County near Lake Ontelaunee. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
LIFE SAVER: University of Pittsburgh researchers estimate the coronavirus restrictions imposed by Gov. Tom Wolf saved thousands of lives, The Inquirer reports. The research comes days after a federal judge ruled some of those restrictions were unconstitutional.

FIRE UP THE TAILGATE: After postponing the fall sports season, the Big Ten changed course and plans to play football. ESPN reports the conference, which includes Penn State, will kickoff an eight-game regular season the weekend of Oct. 24.

THE REAL DEAL: The new REAL ID requirements for air travel were scheduled to begin next month, but the coronavirus led Congress to push that rollout date back to Oct. 1, 2021. After a pause, PennDOT has started reissuing the lDs, The Morning Call reports.

TREE DESERTS: Hunting Park in Philadelphia is considered a tree desert, as trees cover less than 7% of the neighborhood's surface. WHYY explains why that causes heat risks for residents and describes efforts to create cooling centers, plant trees, and provide relief.

FREE MEALS: Schools are allowed to extend programs that provide free breakfasts and lunches to students regardless of their family's income level or how they receive instruction, TribLIVE reports. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended assistance through the fall.

» Pennsylvania is a critical state in determining who wins the White House this year. The Philadelphia Inquirer just launched a weekly newsletter with exclusive reporting covering the entire state on issues that impact you, plus fact-checks, guides to voting, and more. Sign up to follow along at Inquirer.com/PA2020.
MAILBAG: Confession: I have never successfully completed one of the Scrambler games in this newsletter. Reader John C. offered me some tips recently: Arrange consonants in alphabetical order, look for vowels available to make common syllables, and go from there. We love hearing from you. Have a question or thought? Drop us a line.

BAD READS? I use the website and app Goodreads occasionally — mostly around holidays to know what books my sister has already finished. I had no idea Goodreads has become a "monster" to some, as the New Statesman describes, or that new competitors, such as The StoryGraph, are trying to attract dissatisfied users.

'NO SUBSTITUTES': While recording his first radio spot for WITF public radio in Harrisburg, Anthony Orozco heard himself pronounce his last name like a stranger would. He decided to proudly pronounce his name the correct way. "No substitutes, no Spanish lessons, no detours about my family history," he wrote in a Twitter thread inspired by Hispanic Heritage Month.

WHAT TO READ IF ... You're in search of a new look. The King of Prussia Mall in Montgomery County has a COVID-19 store. Philadelphia Magazine took photos of some of the unusual masks: a spiked one, another with a zipper, and one with a built-in hoodie.

YES, WE ARE: "Everyone knows Pennsylvania is the smartest state in the nation." With those words, Stephen Colbert captures our hearts — and also teaches us how to vote on Nov. 3
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
V C T L E I O C L E 

Yesterday's answer: Chestnuts

Congrats to our daily winners: 
Ann C., Anastazya L., John C., Erica K., Darcy M., Theodore W., Tom F., Janice L.G., Bruce B., Carol D., Craig W., Elijah R., Alex L., Diana S., Kim C., Karen A., June B.W., Lynne E., James G., Joel S., Jill A.S., Kim N., Bruce F., Teri B., Carol A., Dan E., Brandie K., Tracey C., Claudia M., Patricia R., Debra Z., Lynne P., Joann D., Laurie P., Cory N., Ann and John., Craig S., David W., Lynn K., Patricia M., Sue B., Irene R., Chris W., Daniel G., Barbara B., Kathleen M., Chris M., Beth T., John H., Karen W., and Jeffrey S.
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