Project aims to free those too poor to afford bond from dangerous jail conditions as it works to end monetary bond in Illinois.
CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF0—July 13, 2017. On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) posted bond to free its 75th person from Cook County Jail (CCJ) or home confinement, through its revolving fund. CCBF, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization, has posted more than $400,000 since becoming operational in December 2015. By posting bond, CCBF restores the presumption of innocence and allows people to fight their cases from a place of freedom. When a person’s case resolves, the money returns to CCBF, which can then use the funds to free more people from Cook County Jail.
The inability to pay bond has severe consequences. Just 24 hours of pretrial incarceration can dramatically alter a person’s life. In that time, a person can be fired from their job or evicted from their home. After a month of pretrial incarceration, people lose access to benefits such as Social Security disability benefits and Medicare. Once released from Cook County Jail, it can take months for individuals to regain access to these essential services. Through its revolving fund, CCBF prevents some of these harms in individual cases.
In addition to freeing people from Cook County Jail, CCBF is working with other community organizations to push for comprehensive bail reform. On any given day, CCJ incarcerates over 7,000 people, more than 90% of whom are being detained pretrial, meaning they haven’t been convicted of a crime. More than 60% of the people incarcerated in CCJ are there only because they cannot pay bond.
According to CCBF’s Director of Operations Max Suchan, “CCBF should not have to exist. We, as a society, should not tolerate the caging of people simply because they are poor. CCBF will continue to free people from CCJ and push for truly comprehensive bail reform that ensures no one is incarcerated solely because they cannot pay a money bond. We look forward to the day when Illinois no longer relies on a system that irreparably and negatively impacts the lives of accused people, increases recidivism, and extracts wealth from already marginalized communities.”
In addition to working to end monetary bond and maintaining a revolving fund, CCBF volunteers also provide individualized support to people the organization bonds out of jail or off of house arrest. This support consists of court date reminders, rides to court, referrals to partner organizations for job training, housing, resumé assistance, and other resources.
To date, 30 bonds posted by CCBF have successfully returned to the revolving fund, allowing the organization to post bond for more people. No bonds have been forfeited.
CCBF also supports social movements and organizations whose participants have been arrested at political demonstrations. Fourteen of the 75 bonds posted have for people arrested at progressive political actions, including two activists charged with felonies during a mass protest of Donald Trump’s planned March 11, 2016 Chicago rally.