On any given night, nearly half a million people go to bed in jail cells in America without having been convicted of a crime because they cannot afford to pay bail, highlighting a social injustice in our pretrial system.
Currently, there are roughly 4,800 people in the Dallas County Jail. 70% of them will sit in jail as they await their day in court because they cannot afford bail.
While being detained, individuals who cannot afford to post bail risk losing their jobs, homes, and children. This is why Chase Oaks has selectively chosen The Bail Project as a recipient of our generosity as part of our #LoveDoesTheUnexpected.
What Is Bail?
If you are unfamiliar with exactly how bail works or what it does, bail was originally designed for a conditional release—to get them to come back for their court dates. It was not intended to keep people in jail or create a two-tier system of justice: one for the rich and one for everyone else.
Unfortunately, this is what bail has become. Many people sit in American jails because they cannot afford bail. If you are detained in jail, you are four times more likely to get a jail sentence and that sentence will be three times longer than if you had been free.
Some innocent people might plead guilty just to be released from jail, but then, they have a criminal record for the rest of their lives that can affect their ability to get a high-quality job. When a defendant pays bail, over half of the cases are dismissed.
The vast majority of people that are bailed out return to court to face their charges. Once the case is dismissed or has gone through trial, the bail is returned to the fund. Bail money can be reused over and over again, so it becomes a revolving bail fund. This allows our money to help a lot of people for a long time.
To find out more about our current bail system, check out this TED Talk given by Robin Steinberg, the CEO of The Bail Project.
What Is The Bail Project?
The Bail Project’s mission is to combat the social injustice of our pretrial system by working with local partners to bring immediate bail assistance to thousands of people. Their hope is to reduce the human suffering caused by unaffordable cash bail, restore the presumption of innocence, and help end mass incarceration.
In addition, The Bail Project collects data and stories to support advocacy and reform. Through these efforts, they seek to reshape pretrial justice for generations of Americans to come, bringing us one step closer to ending mass incarceration and racial and economic disparities in the U.S. criminal legal system.
How they do this is by paying bail for people in need, which helps reunite families and restore the presumption of innocence. Their national revolving bail fund pays bail for low-income individuals who are legally presumed innocent and whom a judge has deemed eligible for release from jail before trial contingent on paying bail. This allows clients to return home to their families while they await their court dates.
The organization also provides support services such as court date reminders, referrals to voluntary social services, and transportation services. As their cases close, bail is repaid and can be recycled to help additional clients.
How Can We Support The Bail Project?
The Bail Project is in the process of launching their next site in Dallas, so they can help the scores of individuals who are detained in Dallas jails because they cannot afford bail. To support The Bail Project’s fight for social injustice, we can give generously to our #LoveDoesTheUnexpected fund.
Also, in the future, there will be opportunities where Chase Oakers can serve as mentors and come alongside to serve those affected by our current pretrial system.
As we support The Bail Project and their efforts to disrupt a system that disproportionately and unjustly impacts poor communities, we hope to show our community how love does the unexpected.
For other ways to get involved in our movement, check out Love Does The Unexpected. You will find out more information about how you can act surprisingly, give generously, and share broadly to transform our community and world through love.