In this video, RNN’s Richard French talks with Peter Goldberg, Executive Director, about the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and how bail impacts American citizens.
Jails all over the U.S. are packed with people who are only there because they have committed small crimes and are unable to pay bail. As a result, these people are sent to prisons such as Rikers in The Bronx, NY.
The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund is one of New York’s charity bail bond companies, one whose goal is to challenge inequality and injustice within the legal system. This charity pays bail on behalf of detainees who cannot afford it and believes wholeheartedly that cash bail will always punish poor people if it’s allowed to continue.
Goldberg states that people lose their freedom many times over a few hundred dollars. He claims that an astounding 75% of pretrial detainees are sitting in jail or prison because they can’t pay their bail. Only 8% of these people have committed serious crimes, including murder, sexual assault, and gun charges.
There are countless stories of people in New York who were arrested and could not make bail. Thankfully, the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund was there to help. One sixteen-year-old was accused of taking sneakers from his foster brother. The teen spent the night in jail with a bail set at $500. Without the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, he would have been sent to Rikers.
These situations aren’t just happening in New York; it’s occurring across the country. Similar stories have recently surfaced in Texas and California. The idea of abolishing cash bail is becoming a national debate.
Goldberg believes this to be a step in the right direction and explains that detainees spend an average of two weeks at Rikers prison when their bail is set at $1000. He presents the shocking statistic that 70% of Americans do not have $1000 in their savings account.
Why should the amount of money you have determine if you can get out of jail? Goldberg says it shouldn’t. And not only that, but changes should be made to eliminate the vast number of people kept in pretrial.
Some question whether abolishing cash bail is the right decision and wonder how the detainees will return for their court date if they don’t have bail. But according to Goldberg, most of his clients returned to court, and it did not depend on how much money they had.
Cash bail costs tax-payers billions of dollars every year and hurts low-income and colored individuals.
The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund is working hard to stop bail from destroying communities. The charity has paid bail for over 1,800 people thus far.