Our Voices

RFK Human Rights Helps Fund Community Bond Program

In the spring of 2020, activist organization Mano Amiga launched its community bond program in the hopes of releasing people from Hays County Jail who couldn’t otherwise afford their freedom.

The program, funded by a $75,000 grant from the National Bail Project and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, provides the full cash bond for eligible people in pretrial detention and when that individual shows up for court “the money comes back to us,” explained Eric Martinez, Mano Amiga’s policy director.

Jordan Buckley, one of the group’s founders, said the program is intended to chip away at a system that punishes people for poverty, and now also puts them in a situation where they could be exposed to the deadly coronavirus.

The cash bond process as it stands translates to a “wealth-based” system, Buckley said. “People charged with the same crime, if they can afford bail, can go home and elude the virus. If you can’t pay, you are left in a facility swamped with COVID-19.”

The program has been in the works for almost a year and has already freed 16 people from Hays County Jail with another three to five individuals expected to be released in the next week.

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