Bail funds are charitable organizations that collect money to pay for the release of people who have been arrested as they await trial. Around 450,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime remain in jail each day in the U.S. because they cannot afford to pay bail, according to the ACLU.
Click here to read about the history of bail funds.
A bail fee is different from bail. In Massachusetts, the bail fee is a mandatory, nonrefundable, $40.00 fee required by the Bail Commissioner. Bail is when a Bail Commission at the police station or a Judge at the courthouse decides an individual will be required to provide additional money to ensure that they will return to court. If an individual cannot afford the bail fee or bail, they will be held in jail until their case is over. In some cases, individuals will be in jail for months or years simply because they cannot afford their bail, sometimes as low as $50.00.
The Massachusetts Bail Fund pays up to $2000 bail so that low-income people can stay free while they work towards resolving their case, allowing individuals, families, and communities to stay productive, together, and stable.
Click here to donate to the Massachusetts Bail Fund.
Click here for a list of bail funds for protestors across the country.
Click here to watch Robin Steinberg give a Ted talk about the injustice of the bail system.
In December 2019, the Massachusetts Legislature's 19-member bail reform commission released its final report. Read it here. As reported by WBUR, the report included new statistics showing racial and gender disparities in how bail is set. Read the WBUR article here. More than 19% of non-white defendants had bail set at more than $5,000, compared with about 11% of white defendants. Also fewer non-white defendants than white defendants were held on less than $1,000 bail (53.7% to 63.2%).