Please join us for A National Conversation on Bail Reform -- an evening of discussion between activists and experts from across the country who are tackling jails, bail and pre-trial detention in a variety of ways with one common goal -- to bring people home and end America’s reliance on incarceration as a response to social inequities.
In this moment, the eyes of advocates and directly-impacted folks across the nation are trained on New York. Following the Governor's public pledge to end money bail and a strong Democratic majority in the state legislature, New York has a chance to set a national model by passing real bail reform that ends wealth based-detention and money bail in a way that decarcerates and undermines, rather than entrenches, race and class biases in our pretrial system.
Rena Karefa-Johnson, Senior Associate, Criminal Justice Reform, FWD.US
Ivette Alé, Statewide Coordinator, JusticeLA & CURB, Los Angeles
Sharlyn Grace, Co-Executive Director, Chicago Community Bond Fund
Reuben Jones, Philadelphia Campaign Coordinator, JustLeadershipUSA
Leaders of the FreeNY Campaign
You may have heard that the United States is the most incarcerated nation in the world -- with just 5 percent of the world’s population, we are home to 25 percent of the global population of incarcerated people. On any given day there are approximately 2.2 million people in jails and prisons across the country, with another 5 million on parole, probation or other form of “community corrections.” Amazingly, these numbers actually understate the magnitude of the issue by focusing on a one-day sample.
In fact, approximately 9 million people (the entire population of New York City) cycle through jails in the United States every year, the consequences of which can be devastating and generational, impacting housing, finances, mental health, employment and child custody.
While traditionally jails have been utilized to punish people convicted of minor crimes for short sentences, a full 99 percent of jail population growth since the 1980s is attributable to the pre-trial population -- people who are legally innocent, still waiting for their day in court. This is a result of a number of factors, including the growing influence of money bail utilized as a mechanism for release and detention.
People locked up pre-trial are more likely to plead guilty, be convicted, and sentenced to prison than those who are able to afford to pay for their liberty while their case is resolved. Pre-trial detention has become an important driver of mass incarceration, especially for people of color.
So what exactly is going on? What is money bail and why are activists across the country keying in on this specific policy in efforts to decrease the pre-trial jail population in the United States? What does good bail reform look like? How about bad bail reform? What is in store for New York State in 2019?