Money Bail Must be Abolished.
At any given time, there are ~10,000 people incarcerated in New York City jails. 89% of them are Black or Latine. 80% of them have not been convicted of a crime. Instead, they’ve just been accused of a crime.
If the accused person can’t afford to pay their bail, they are thrown in jail for months or even years while awaiting trial.
During these months and years, an incarcerated person cannot participate in their life. They can get fired from their job, get evicted from their apartment, and lose custody of their children. Incarcerating people pretrial in NYC's traumatizing jails does not make our city more safe and instead inflicts violence upon our community members.
Money bail is a racist and poverty-criminalizing practice that denies people their constitutional right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. It robs the most marginalized New Yorkers of their freedom, their safety, and their lives.
And You Can Join the Fight.
The Dollar Bail Brigade is an abolitionist group of 800+ volunteers who team up to free innocent New Yorkers incarcerated for just $1. We receive referrals from Public Defenders and community members, and will help anyone in jail for $1. We partner with criminal justice organizations to support abolitionist policy change, and our experiences have been used in testimony to City Council to help pass several bail laws.
What is Dollar Bail?
Dollar bail is a harmfully-inefficient solution to the vast shortcomings of New York’s criminal justice bureaucracy.
When a defendant has 2 cases open simultaneously, where one is more serious, defense attorneys will often ask that a $1 bail be set on the more minor case. This practice allows the time the defendant is spending incarcerated pending the outcome of the more serious case to be counted toward the less serious case.
The harmful result that often happens is that defendants or their families or friends pay the larger bail, are unaware of the $1 bail, and defendants continue to be held on what is essentially an administratively driven bail amount. (source: Center for Court Innovation). Additionally, because of how awful the process of paying bail is, many people don't have people in their lives to spend hours posting bail for them.
This is where the Dollar Bail Brigade comes in -- to free people kept in jail due simply to the dehumanizing bureaucracy of New York’s Department of Corrections.
Why Can’t People Pay the $1 Themselves?
There are a number of reasons why a person might be unable to pay their own $1 bail.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) won’t allow a person to bail themselves out with money they have on-hand at the time of arrest.
Paying bail is an incredibly time-consuming process, and often people don’t know someone who can take a day off work, arrange childcare, and travel to a NYC jail to post bail for them.
Sometimes people are given inadequate or erroneous information by the DOC, so after one of their cases is resolved, they aren’t aware that the bail left on their second case is just $1.
While incarcerated, people are technically allowed to pay their bail out of commissary, but they’re rarely told how to navigate this process.
For all these reasons, innocent people in our communities - who are most often low-income people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals - are incarcerated for days, weeks, and even months for just $1.