This OTYCD entry originally posted in September 2017.
Support the Massachusetts Bail Fund, which pays up to $500 to help bail out low-income people who are arrested in the state.
Happy update: Between the time we wrote this post and the time we scheduled it to appear, the Massachusetts Bail Fund raised the $50,000 it needed to re-open in October.
The fund is now looking to raise another $100,000 to keep its doors open through the end of calendar 2017. Most of the bail money they pay out does come back to them, but that can take months or years. The crisis came when they found themselves hit with high demand while bail refunds were trickling back in.
See their update here, which dates to September 18, before they reached their $50,000 goal:
If we hear about a link to a network of state bail assistance organizations across the country, we’ll drop it in this post and devote a second, separate future post that links to this one. We welcome any tips you have on this score. See our Contact page to learn how to get a message to us.
Original post follows, with contact information for the Massachusetts Bail Fund at the tail.
Being poor is not supposed to be a crime, but try telling that to someone who’s too poor to post bail. Being required to pay $50 to go back home while your case proceeds through the courts may as well be $5 million if you just don’t have the money.
Too often, people who are too poor to post bail for minor crimes languish in jail. For lack of a small sum, their lives are upended. They can’t go to work. They can’t help their families. They can’t serve their communities. Lack of bail money can start a downward spiral that is incredibly difficult to recover from. All to make sure that the person shows up for court on the appointed day.
The sickest part of it all is that the justice system could get what it wants without resorting to jailing people. Phone and email reminders, and well-drawn pretrial conditions, work just as well as bail does at prodding arrestees to appear in court.
Enter the Massachusetts Bail Fund. It helps poor people Massachusetts with bail, offering up to $500 per case.
Unfortunately, the MBF has hit some trouble. Between July and September 2017, they posted bail for 89 people, at a cost of $45,730–a request rate that represents a doubling of demand.
Paying out that much in bail proved unsustainable for the MBF, forcing it to close until it could raise a big-enough chunk of money to serve the increased need and avoid having to suddenly shut down again.
Online activist Mariame Kaba, who tweets under the @prisonculture handle sounded the alarm about the MBF’s woes. Things started to improve for the organization as of September 16, when it tweeted:
Good Morning!! In 12 hrs u all raised $10,800 for us (and counting) At least 20 ppl freed!
They’re not out of the woods yet, of course, if their summer request load is any indication. Help them by donating, following them on social media and spreading the word, or reading up on the bail system and its problems.
See the home page of the Massachusetts Bail Fund:
Donate to the Massachusetts Bail Fund:
Read its newsletter and see its Learn More page:
Follow it on Twitter:
Like it on Facebook:
Mariame Kaba, an activist who tweets under the handle @prisonculture alerted us to the crisis that the Massachusetts Bail Fund faced, and did a hell of a lot of work to signal-boost its need and get it satisfied. Please give her a follow on Twitter: