Brooklyn Community Bail Fund

Each day, countless New Yorkers accused of petty crimes are sent to Rikers Island. Convicted of nothing, they sit in jail because they cannot afford to post bail right away.

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BROOKLYN, NY – EIN 901014588  brooklynbailfund.org

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund secures the freedom of New Yorkers who would otherwise be detained pretrial due to their poverty alone. We are committed to challenging the criminalization of race, poverty and immigration status, the practice of putting a price on fundamental rights, and the persistent myth that bail is a necessary element of the justice system.

Leveraging our groundbreaking work as a charitable bail fund, BCBF joined with other community-based organizations, immigration advocates and legal services providers to form the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund program (NYIFF). Operated by BCBF, the NYIFF program secures the freedom of New Yorkers held in ICE detention who cannot afford to pay bond.

Ours is a radical intervention in a system that treats people differently based on wealth, skin color, immigration status and influence. Partnering with other community-based organizations to advocate for systems change, we’re challenging the criminalization of race and poverty, the practice of putting a price on fundamental rights, and the persistent myth that bail and pretrial detention are necessary elements of the justice system.

From 2015 through 2019, BCBF paid more $5 million in bail to secure the freedom of nearly 5,000 individuals accused of misdemeanors. Our work proved that money bail is not only unjust, but also unnecessary: 95% of our clients returned to court as required—often multiple times and over a period of months—with no personal financial incentive to do so.

In response to intensifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, deportations, and retaliatory enforcement of immigration laws, BCBF formed the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund (NYIFF) program to secure the freedom of non-citizen New Yorkers held in immigration detention and eligible for release during the pendency of their cases, but at bond amounts—the average is now over $8,500—they cannot afford. Leveraging our on-the-ground experience as a bail fund, we have secured the freedom of over 450 community members from ICE detention. We will harness our results to demonstrate that immigration bond and detention harm, and do not protect, our communities.

In 2019, we were proud to partner with community-based organizations, advocates, and members of affected communities to help win historic criminal justice reform in New York State that became effective on January 1, 2020. That legislation, however, has now been rolled back, resulting in the expansion of money bail, which will lead to the pretrial incarceration of up to tens of thousands more people. BCBF will continue to leverage our expertise, visibility and partnerships in the fight to end pretrial detention and #FreeThemAll.