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 & Ramsey 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.
Immigration Bond Fundraiser
Four days a week folks who are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are brought before the court. Many who are facing return to their country of origin ask for nothing more than the opportunity to cash their paychecks, sell their cars, and put their affairs in order before departure. Others request the opportunity to gain asylum here in the US as a result of their extended residence, threat of harm if they return to their country of origin, or a handful of other reasons.
But for both of these groups there is a significant obstacle they face, the price of cash bail.
While not all individuals detained by ICE are offered the option, a comparatively small number are given the chance to leave ICE’s jails if they can pay a sum of money. Known as bond, this money is designed to ensure that they will appear at future court hearings. For some it is a chance to put their affairs in order and cash pay checks before returning home, for others it dramatically increases their chances of gaining asylum and staying in the US. The difference between making bond and being stuck in detention makes a huge difference for every detainee. It is the difference between the possibility of being reunited with family, gaining a chance to stay here, or being returned to jail for months or years while your case works it’s way through a thoroughly broken immigration system.
A coalition of community organizations is responding to this intolerable state of affairs by piloting a fund that will pay bond for those stuck in ICE detention and unable to secure release. Once those individuals are released we will ensure that they are connected with the support they need to complete their cases. When those cases resolve we will collect that money and put it toward freeing others. Such a bond fund will not solve all of the challenges of our broken immigration system, but it offers us a way to push back on an increasing aggressive detention system that seeks to forcibly remove members of our communities.
ICE DETAINEE PILOT
Like other criminal cases the MFF targets these detentions hurt families and our community by preventing individuals from working, and keeping them away from their family and home. However, immigration detention cases often take far longer to resolve and threaten those involved with the prospect of being forced out of the country.
Since January of 2017, detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have increased 40%.
Earlier this year we were approached by the Detainee Rights clinic at the University of Minnesota who asked us to consider expanding our work to serve those being detained by ICE. We are currently raising funds to pilot this effort.
Getting individuals out of immigration detention gives them the opportunity to pursue a case for asylum or consider returning to their country of origin. It allows them to deepen their connection to the community, raise their kids, work their job, and avoid months or years in detention.
If you’d like to support the campaign you can make a donation on our “SUPPORT MFF” page.