Why It Matters: The Bail Project St. Louis

We believe that paying bail for someone in need is an act of resistance against a system that criminalizes race and poverty and an act of solidarity with local communities and movements for decarceration. Over the next five years, The Bail Project will open dozens of sites in high-need jurisdictions with the goal of paying bail for tens of thousands of low-income Americans, all while collecting stories and data that prove money bail is not necessary to ensure people return to court. We won’t stop until meaningful change is achieved and the presumption of innocence is no longer for sale.” –The Bail Project

The cash bail system in this country is corrupt. There is none so apparent to that injustice than in my hometown. There is nothing like asking getting arrested and not even having the $100-$500 to bond yourself out (ask me how I know). St. Louis City and County is made up of more than 30 municipalities! Do you know that that means? On a trip to the store for me means I may drive through (on average) 2-3 municipalities to do the most mudane things! And those municipalies all have a police department–which need money to run. Where does that money come from? Tickets and warrants. What happens when you don’t go to court? You get a warrant. If you get a warrant, the police arrest you, then you go to jail.

But, remember Sandra Bland.

Remember Walter Scott.

Remember Freddy Gray.

Not everyone that gets stopped makes it to jail! For this fear, there are some people (myself included!) that forgo court because they don’t have the money and fear the police! And those municipalities to need money (and people) to run. The fact that this initiative exists is amazing! It is a reminder that economic disenfranchisement is a component of revenue-generating policing. Meaning, the system is based on how many people that you can catch in this net! And if you can get enough people in this net, the more revenue you can get out of them. These policies/policing disproportionally targets the poor. If you are struggling to pay rent and utilities, you may not have the means or ability to appear for court appearance, and definitely might have the court fees, on top of the ticket cost, with the $75 for the cost of the warrant! The Bail Project is a cause worthy of support because of the protection that it offers those found in these situations which sometimes are no fault of their own. My grandmother says it this way, “It is never a good time to help anybody, that’s why they call it help!” The Bail Project is help. Much, very much, needed help.

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