December 30, 2016

Department of Good Stuff: End of monetary bail movement

Alternet - For the nearly 8,000 people locked up in Cook County jail, and the 2,400 on house arrest, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty effectively does not exist. Roughly 95 percent of those incarcerated have not faced trial or conviction of any kind, the vast majority of them ensnared simply because they are unable to afford bond. Those forced to languish in indefinite detention are disproportionately African American, and their pretrial punishments can permanently set their lives off-course, causing them to lose jobs, custody of their children, their housing, and even their lives.

Now, a group of formerly incarcerated people, movement lawyers and concerned community members in Chicago are seeking to intervene in this humanitarian crisis by pooling collective resources to free people from Cook County jail. Calling themselves the Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF), the all-volunteer group just announced it has freed 50 people from jail or house arrest, using a revolving fund.

But the organization is not just aiming to buy the liberty of those locked up—a transaction they acknowledge is chilling. Members want to change the system by organizing to eradicate monetary bond altogether and address the harms that Cook County inflicts on its own residents.

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