Ending Mass IncarcerationReducing the Use of Jails

Bail and Pretrial

Nationwide, 62 percent of people in jail are not serving time, they’re waiting for justice to be served in cases that typically involve nonviolent charges. In one county jail over the course of a week, fully a third of people admitted were charged with traffic violations. America spends an estimated $22.2 billion annually to detain people in jails. 

What if judges set bail amounts people could afford, or released them with no up-front payment? Bail shouldn’t function as punishment or coerce people to plead guilty, but these and other injustices are baked into the process. We’re working in New York City and nationally to address them once and for all.

Related Work

Two Ways to Show Up for Black Lives in the Wake of George Floyd’s Murder

Bail fund donations and overhauling the money bail system

As police respond to the current protests with more violence and arrests, bail funds have seen an outpouring of support—collectively raising upwards of $30 million from tens of thousands of donors across the country in a matter of days. Some bail funds, like the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and the Minneapolis Freedom Fund, have received so many do ...

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  • Insha Rahman
    Insha Rahman
June 05, 2020
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A Means to an End

Assessing the Ability to Pay Bail

Research shows that money bail is unfair, ineffective, and disproportionately burdens people of color and those with low incomes; jurisdictions that no longer rely on money bail have excellent court appearance rates, fewer people in jail, and strong public safety outcomes. In April 2018, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) developed and launched t ...

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  • Sandra van den Heuvel, Anton Robinson, Insha Rahman
December 14, 2019
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Series: Eliminating Money Injustice in New Orleans

Moving to Action on Ending Money Injustice

A conversation with activist and co-host of Pod Save the People Brittany Packnett

6. You’re emceeing a live music and panel discussion event in New Orleans on July 3—co-hosted by Vera, Global Citizen, and RFK Human Rights. Tell me what inspired you to get involved and what you’re looking forward to? I’m inspired by the work that Vera does to shine a light on the continued injustices in our system, and to make sure that these sto ...

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  • Vera Institute  of Justice
    Vera Institute of Justice
July 03, 2019
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Series: Eliminating Money Injustice in New Orleans

How New Orleans Communities Rise Up Against Money Injustice

A conversation with New Orleans community organizer Gilda Lewis

5. How do you think New Orleans would change if Vera’s reforms were implemented? If they eliminated bail and conviction fees, it’s less stress. My community will be healthier, it’ll be safer, and people will have more rational decision-making. When you ask somebody for something that they don’t have... well, here we go again… we’re raising money. I ...

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  • Vera Institute  of Justice
    Vera Institute of Justice
June 28, 2019
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