The seed for The Bail Project was planted 10 years ago when The Bronx Freedom Fund, NYC’s first community bail fund, was started as a project of The Bronx Defenders. Since then, The Bronx Freedom Fund has grown out of our determination to combat racial disparities and mass incarceration at the front end of the system by paying bail for low-income people, preventing the devastating consequences of pretrial detention and restoring the presumption of innocence.
As one of the oldest community bail funds and a leader in the field, The Bronx Freedom Fund has provided technical assistance and step-by-step guides to help other funds spring up across the country. Over the years, our model has been strengthened by our close collaboration with local community partners, stakeholders, and public defenders, which ensures we can intervene early and prevent incarceration before it happens. Beyond the human impact of the Freedom Fund, stories and data from our work in the Bronx have been instrumental in showing that money bail is not only unjust, but also unnecessary.
In 2017, with the support of a new major grants initiative, we got the opportunity to take the lessons and expertise we developed in the Bronx and scale the revolving fund model to a national level, with 40 sites in high-need jurisdictions planned to open over the next five years. The Bail Project is our dream to provide a lifeline for the tens of thousands of low-income Americans who, on any given day, are at risk of pretrial incarceration due to their economic status and race.
Our goal is bold: to bail out over 160,000 people by 2022 and accelerate change until our work is no longer necessary. We invite you to be a part of this unprecedented effort.