When an individual is arrested they will often be held pending a cash payment known as bail. Research suggests that those who are able to successfully post bail have lower rates of conviction, less severe sentences, and lower rates of recidivism than those who cannot. Those who are unable to post bail are at risk of losing their employment, their housing, and potentially custody of their children. In short, the ability to pay bail has significant and lasting consequences. Moreover, even relatively small bail amounts can be out of the reach many people because bail must be paid in cash.
The very existence of a cash bail system creates a situation where very different levels of justice are available to individuals depending on their income.
We intervene in this inequitable reality by paying the bail for low-income individuals. By doing so we allow people to continue to work their job, pay their rent, and raise their kids while their case concludes. We pay bail up to $1,000 for individuals arrested in Hennepin County. We meet those who are arrested upon their release, ensure they have a way home, follow up with them to remind them of court dates, and then collect the bail money when their case is resolved. In this way the fund’s capital operates as a rotating loan pool with each dollar being recycled to support multiple clients.