On September 15, the Massachusetts Bail Fund had to suspend our work due to lack of funds, after spending $45,370 to free a record 89 people held on bails that they could not afford to pay in August and September.
Every month, we are now posting between 30 and 40 bails. We’re only able to recover 8-10 bails each month because it takes months and sometimes years for cases to resolve. We almost never have to forfeit the bails we post, because people come back to court. Still, we spend way more each month than we’re able to recoup, and the demand far exceeds the funds we have.
In response to our shutdown, people from across the country have stood together in support of our bail fund so critical harm reduction work can continue. Our friend and abolitionist guide Mariame Kaba ( @prisonculture, www.mariamekaba.com) issued a challenge on Twitter to raise $25,000 for the Mass Bail Fund by September 30. Because of your generosity and commitment to justice, we were able to raise that amount in less than 24 hours.
So far, we’ve raised $41,196 and counting. There’s no power like the power of the people!
We are so grateful for this outpouring of support. Thanks to you, we will be able to open in October and free more people. However, we still need to raise a total of $100,000 in order to be able to post 30-40 bails per month for the rest of 2017. We encourage you to give to the Bail Fund if you haven’t already, and ask friends to give if they can.
We’re especially alarmed at the high number of bail requests we are receiving, because Massachusetts’s highest court recently ruled in Brangan v. Commonwealth that judges must consider a person’s ability to pay before setting bail. Since that ruling, however, we’ve received 53 requests for assistance from the Bail Fund. This court decision has not brought the relief promised to poor and working class people.
In response, we are in the process of establishing a court watch to monitor and report how the Brangan bail decision is (or is not) being implemented so we can challenge defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges to honor the spirit of the ruling and stop setting bails people can’t afford to pay.
We are committed to harm reduction in the short-term and to abolishing pre-trial detention in the long-term. Thank you for allowing us to do this work and to serve our community in this way.