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

The Impact of New York Bail Reform on Statewide Jail Populations

A First Look

New York’s recent bail reform law, which was passed in April 2019 and amended on July 2, 2020, was expected to reduce the footprint of jail incarceration by limiting the use of money bail. The new law mandated pretrial release for the vast majority of nonviolent charges and required that judges consider a person’s ability to pay bail. A comprehensi ...

Publication
  • Jaeok Kim, Quinn Hood, Elliot Connors
February 11, 2021
Publication

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 ...

Blog Post
  • Insha Rahman
    Insha Rahman
June 05, 2020
Blog Post

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 ...

Publication
  • Sandra van den Heuvel, Anton Robinson, Insha Rahman
December 14, 2019
Publication