Insurance Companies May Set Up Charitable Fund for Bail

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Bail reform advocates increasingly are raising charitable funds they use to put up bail for defendants too poor to pay their way out of jail, says The Marshall Report. These funds have sprung up in recent years in cities that include Boston, Brooklyn, Nashville, and Seattle. Similar funds are currently being explored in St. Louis, Miami, Cincinnati, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Austin. Because bail is returned if a defendant meets his court obligations, bail funds can be used repeatedly to bail out more people. “Our overall goal is to end money bail,” said Sharlyn Grace of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which has paid roughly $160,000 to release more than 30 people.

One potential entry into the bail fund is the American Bail Coalition, a trade group for insurance companies that underwrite bail. Critics of bail suspect the fund, if it happens, is part of a public relations campaign to soften the industry’s image and slow the pace of serious reforms. “The insurance companies think if they do a bail fund, that will slow down the progress of eliminating money, because then they can say, ‘Look, we don’t need bail reform, we’re making progress through bail funds,’” said Tim Schnacke, a bail critic. “A national bail fund sponsored by the bail bondsman?” said Cherise Fanno Burdeen of the Pretrial Justice Institute. “That’s like a free sample of heroin from a drug dealer.”

One thought on “Insurance Companies May Set Up Charitable Fund for Bail

  1. Why is it when a group of students from a college establish a plan to set up a charitable bail fund for the indigent, those that support criminal justice reform think it is a groundbreaking, innovative idea? But when the commercial bail industry reaches out to help the same group of indigent individuals, with a charitable bail fund of its own, the critics immediately discredit the effort.

    If the goal of any organization is to help those who cant help themselves, like those that are truly indigent languishing away in jail, shouldn’t that organization support any and all efforts to achieve that goal…even if it comes from the private sector. I think it is incredibly disingenuous for anyone to discredit the efforts of the bail industry for trying to improve the system and solve a problem.

    I also think this type of anti-bail narrative reveals the true colors of the bail reform movement. Acting in this way, only communicates to the world that their goal isn’t to really to solve the problem, but rather to maintain their own existence and importance. It is time for all sides to get together to start focusing on ALL ways to solve these important problems as opposed to just focusing on eliminating a competing entity that threatens your relevance.

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