Cash Bail is the Worst

New York City’s criminal justice system is messed up. At any given time, there are ~10,000 people incarcerated in New York City jails. 89% of them are Black or Latino.

The vast majority of them have not been convicted of a crime. Instead, they’ve just been accused of a crime--most commonly a non-violent crime of poverty, like public urination or jumping the subway turnstile.

If the accused person can’t afford to pay their bail, then they will be stuck in jail for the months or years that lead up to their actual trial.

During these months and years, an incarcerated person cannot participate in their life. They can get fired from their job, get evicted from their apartment, and lose custody of their children.

Instead, they spend their time in the hyper-violent and traumatizing environments of New York City jails, where they are at incredibly high risk of being involved in assault and sexual assault.

These people are not dangerous criminals, and their incarceration doesn’t make our city more safe.

Cash bail is a racist and poverty-criminalizing practice that denies people their constitutional right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. It robs the most vulnerable and oppressed New Yorkers of their freedom, their safety, their lives.

But You Can Fight Back

Due to a tiny technical incompetence of the NYC criminal justice system’s archaic software, people are detained all the time in New York for just one dollar. Even if the accused person can afford to pay one dollar, they are not given the opportunity to pay their own bail. That’s how broken the system is.

The Dollar Bail Brigade is a coalition of volunteers who pay people’s one dollar bails in their spare time. Here’s how it works:

- Every month, you pick your own on-duty hours, where you’re free to pay dollar bail.

- When we learn that a dollar bail has been set during your on-duty hours, we call you.

- If you’re indeed free at that moment, we give you the required information about the person you’re bailing out.

- You commute to whichever NYC jail is closest to you, fill out that information, and pay the one-dollar bail.

- After that person’s trial, you get your dollar mailed back to you.

This is an action we can all take to resist New York City’s racist, poverty-criminalizing practices. This is how we can start breaking the chains of modern-day slavery.

See you there!