WHY CRIMINAL BAIL & IMMIGRATION BOND?
we value a society that values its people, their freedom and recognizes their contribution to the greater good. A society that does not condition pretrial freedom on class or identity, that has ended mass incarceration, and that invests in restorative and transformative justice.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why pay bail for people who can’t afford it? Shouldn't people stay in jail?
There is nothing “normal” about cash bail - the United States and the Philippines are the only two countries in the world where someone has to put up cash to avoid being imprisoned before their trial. We stand against cash bail as unjust and identify wealth-based discrimination as a vehicle for the criminal justice system to target populations for structural violence. People of color and immigrants face higher rates of arrest, harsher sentencing, and disparities in the setting of bail compared to white citizens.
How big of a problem is cash bail and pretrial incarceration in Minnesota?
County sheriffs and attorneys do not make accessing data easy. Release of data in a way that allows us to analyze it is the exception, not the rule. We were able to obtain more than 4,000 jail intake records over a seven week period from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and our analysis of these records indicates that nearly 60 percent of those accused of misdemeanors and almost 40 percent of those accused of any crime had cash bail assigned. The median bail for misdemeanors was $300 and overall was $3,000 over that seven week period.
In terms of pretrial incarceration, the picture is clear: the growth of Minnesota’s prison population is solely due to increases in pretrial incarceration.
WHY PAY IMMIGRATION BONDS?
The deportation detention system comes with all the same problems and pervasive ills that plague the pre-trial bail process of the criminal justice system. Poor people are disproportionately subject to being held and detained at county jails while they go through the process of deportation. The act of imprisonment is often a powerful coercive tool that forces people to choose between exercising their rights, or choosing to be released but giving up- which often means their home a separation with their family. In Minnesota, people in immigration detention are housed in County Jails, and for the most part are housed with the same people awaiting criminal trial. There are however some important differences between criminal and immigration detention.
If you want to end cash bail, why are you participating in the system and bailing people out?
We pay bail as a way to reduce harm to individuals in the immediate term. But we never lose sight of our mission to abolish cash bail and have the burden of proof for pretrial risk fall on prosecutors, not the accused.
We know that when our bail interventions are paired with sustained activism and political outreach, groups like ours can highlight the injustice of money bail and serve as a voice to give urgency to the struggle for its abolition.