Giving Compass’ Take:
· Tana Ganeva explains how The Bail Project, an idea formulated by Bronx public defenders, has gained nationwide traction to reform cash bail into a more just, equitable system.
· What are the major issues and concerns brought up with cash bail? What system would presume innocence over guilt? How can donors contribute to efforts to reform the criminal justice system?
The Vernon C. Bain Center—nicknamed “The Boat”—is a giant jail barge that floats at the tip of Hunts Point in the Bronx. It sits between a fish factory and a sewage processing plant. Rikers, the sprawling island jail, is visible in the distance.
“It’s where wealthy New Yorkers put the things they don’t want to see,” Yonah Zeitz, a 23-year-old project associate with the Bronx Freedom Fund (BFF), tells me during our hike to the barge. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
No subway trains run nearby. A lone bus line drops off anybody who has business with the Boat a long way away, requiring a walk up a long, fenced road edged with razor wire. When you consider that a majority of the Boat’s inmates have not yet been found guilty of a crime—yet might have their freedom taken away for days, weeks, months, or years before the trial—and that most are black or brown, the conclusion Zeitz has reached is not as far-fetched as it might sound. “It’s like a modern-day slave ship,” he says.
Zeitz has come to the jail to free an inmate by posting his bail. Carrying cashier’s checks (it’s not a good idea for “bail disruptors”—a term coined for BFF staff members who post bail—like Zeitz to carry large wads of cash), he fills out the paperwork and meets with the inmate for about 20 minutes to offer to pay his bail and assess his needs. Once the paperwork goes through, the prisoner should be released in a few hours.
Read the full article about ending cash bail by Tana Ganeva at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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