Chicago Community Bond Fund
The Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) pays bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County, Illinois. Through a revolving fund, CCBF supports individuals whose communities cannot afford to pay the bonds themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence. Inability to pay bond results in higher rates of conviction, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation of families, and lost custody of children. By paying bond, CCBF restores the presumption of innocence before trial and enables recipients to remain free while fighting their cases. CCBF also engages in public education about the role of bond in the criminal legal system and advocates for the abolition of money bond. CCBF is committed to longterm relationship building and organizing with people most directly impacted by criminalization and policing.
Harm Reduction in a Prison Nation
The Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) is a revolving fund that will pay bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County, engage in education about the role of bond in the criminal legal system, and advocate for the abolition of money bond. CCBF supports individuals whose communities who have been impacted by structural violence and whose bonds are completely out of proportion with their ability to pay. We are committed to building long-term relationships and organizing with people most directly impacted by criminalization and policing: people of color, especially Black people, and the poor.
We are an all-volunteer effort, composed of people who believe that access to money should not determine freedom, that pre-trial incarceration is fundamentally unjust, and that Chicagoans can take action now to help alleviate some of the harm caused by government policies while simultaneously working for systemic change.
What Is bond?
Bond is money charged by the state to release a person charged with a crime from custody while their case proceeds. (Bond is also referred to as “bail.”) In Illinois, bonds that require cash payment are called Deposit Bonds or “D-bonds”; people charged with crimes are required to pay 10% of the D-bond amount set by a judge as a “deposit”. For example, if you are given a $1,000 D Bond, you have to pay $100 cash in order to be released from police or county custody.
Bond is essentially unfair and unjust. High bonds are justified by the idea that they keep us safe, but setting monetary bond undermines the very idea that safety should govern release or detention decisions. Someone who is not dangerous should be released regardless of their access to money; likewise, someone who is truly dangerous should not be released simply because they can pay bond. Our current system makes wealth, not safety, the primary determinant of whether someone is released while awaiting trial. Add to this the fact that 70% of pre-trial detainees at Cook County Jail are detained for nonviolent offenses and that Black defendants are generally more likely to be given cash bonds and have bonds set at higher amounts than white defendants, and the merits of money bond become hard to identify.
There is also no proven correlation between payment of bond and someone returning to court. Under Washington D.C.’s much-lauded Pretrial Services Agency, 85% of all defendants are released, no money bond is used, and 88% of all released defendants remain arrest-free and attend all court dates. Fewer than 1% of the people who are re-arrested are alleged to have committed a violent crime. In New York, 96% of the Bronx Freedom Fund’s clients attended every one of their court dates–a rate higher than that of people who paid their own bond!
Why Is Making Bond so Important?
The simple inability to pay bond often has severe negative consequences on the very things that help someone charged with a crime succeed: employment, stable housing, and strong family and community connections. Pre-trial detention can cause loss of housing and/or jobs, separation of families, and lost custody of children. It also results in higher rates of conviction, as people are forced to plead guilty in order to go home rather than fight their charges. With the stakes so high, CCBF hopes to alleviate the harm for as many people as possible by assisting them in paying their bonds, allowing them to remain free while fighting their cases.
Who We Are
We are a team of experienced organizers and activists from a wide variety of backgrounds, united to end mass incarceration:
Gloria Moore Wesley
Our Advisory Board
We are proud to have the help of a number of great community leaders in our work, including:
- Alan Mills, Executive Director, Uptown People’s Law Center
- Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Immigration attorney and expert on the immigration consequences of criminal charges
- Rosi Carrasco, Organizer, Organized Communities Against Deportations
- Eliza Solowiej, Executive Director, First Defense Legal Aid
- Mariame Kaba, Founder and Director, Project NIA; Co-founder, Chicago Freedom School
- Jennifer Vollen-Katz, Executive Director, John Howard Association
- Ali Abid, Staff Attorney and Criminal Justice Policy Analyst, Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice
- Beth Johnson, Director of Legal Programs, Cabrini Green Legal Aid
- José López, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center
- Sarah Staudt, Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow at Lawndale Christian Legal Center
CCBF strives to eliminate the use of monetary bond in Cook County entirely, but we are currently unable to assist everyone who needs help paying bond. CCBF will use a variety of factors to determine whether to pay bond for someone who applies for our assistance.
CCBF will use the following interactive factors to evaluate whether we will assist someone who applies for our help paying bond:
- Inability to pay bond required, including lack of access to family or community resources;
- Amount of bond to be paid;
- Existing support system, such as a family member or case manager who has committed to providing assistance making court dates and/or other forms of support;
- Risk of victimization in the jail, including but not limited to: gender identity and expression (namely transgender, gender non-conforming or LGBQI people), people with disabilities, and youth or elder status;
- Special health needs such as pregnancy, chronic medical conditions, or ongoing mental health treatment;
- Dependents or other family members who may be harmed by applicant’s detention, including risk of custody loss or Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) involvement;
- Immigration status and potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.
- Referral through or connection to established partner organization;
- Anticipated impact of detention on applicant’s employment, housing, educational attainment, and/or custodial rights;
- Position in relation to structural violence, community disinvestment, systemic racism, survival, and resistance; and
- Willingness to assist with raising money to cover any anticipated court costs, fines, or fees that will not be refunded to the bond fund.
Projects & Press
Press About the Bond Fund
Below, you can find a sample of some of the stories media outlets have published about the bond fund.
- A Community Solution to Cash Bail
- Trump Protester ‘Blindsided’ Police Officer at Rally Friday: Prosecutors
- Naomi Freeman, Mom In Jail for Killing Abuser, Released on Bond: Advocates
- Should Mom Be Jailed For Killing Her Abuser? The Push To Free Naomi Freeman
- Punished for Survival: Domestic Violence, Criminalization and the Case of Naomi Freeman
- The Chicago Community Bond Fund Is Taking On Cash Bond One Person at a Time
- Introducing the Chicago Community Bond Fund, or, Why We Should Let Most People Out of Cook County Jail
- Bail Reformers Aren’t Waiting for Bail Reform
Our Past Campaigns
The bond fund has raised money for a number of specific goals, in addition to our everyday work. You can see the pages for past campaigns below.
Advocacy and Research
- The Pretrial Justice Institute
- The OSF Access to Pretrial Justice Project
- Community Resources For Justice Pretrial Project
- Ending the American Money Bail System
- ABA Pretrial Release Standards
- Fundamentals of Bail from the National Institute of Corrections (PDF)
- Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Using Money for Bail
- The Bail Trap
- Too Many People in Jail? Abolish Bail - an editorial by CCBF founding member Maya Schenwar
- Christy Dawn Varden, et al. The City of Clanton (PDF)
- A boy was accused of taking a backpack. The courts took the next three years of his life.
- Kalief Browder, 1993–2015
- The Challenge of Collaboration: Cook County Goes After MacArthur Foundation Safety+Justice Challenge Grant
Other Bond Funds
We Need Your Money
The Chicago Community Bond Fund is a 501(c)3 organization. Your donation is tax-deductible. Please consider donating today, and contact us with any questions.
We can also accept donations, including recurring donations, through PayPal.
If You Need Help With Bond
June 14, 2016: We are not currently accepting requests for help paying bond. Since December 2015, CCBF has posted more than $160,000 in bond to free 33 people incarcerated in Cook County Jail or on electronic monitoring. During the summer, we will be focusing on fundraising to replenish the revolving bond fund and increasing our organizational capacity. We greatly appreciate your donations. Thank you for your support!
For Other Inquiries
You Can Email Us
Send your questions or comments to email@example.com.
For media inquiries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You Can Call Us
Leave us a message at 1-844-END-BOND, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Sign Up for Our Newsletter
We’ll occationally send out a newsletter to tell you about developments in our organization, fundraisers and other things of interest.
Send Us Something
You can send us mail:Chicago Community Bond Fund
PO Box 479015
Chicago, IL 60647