Chicago Community Bond Fund


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Our Mission

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.

What

Take a look at our first annual report!

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.

Please check out our Resources page to read more about how bond harms individuals, families, and entire communities. Contact us to get involved in the fight to end cash bond in Chicago.


Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board

We are proud to have the help of a number of great community leaders in our work, including:

Criteria

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:

  1. Inability to pay bond required, including lack of access to family or community resources;
  2. Amount of bond to be paid;
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. Special health needs such as pregnancy, chronic medical conditions, or ongoing mental health treatment;
  6. 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;
  7. Immigration status and potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.
  8. Referral through or connection to established partner organization;
  9. Anticipated impact of detention on applicant’s employment, housing, educational attainment, and/or custodial rights;
  10. Position in relation to structural violence, community disinvestment, systemic racism, survival, and resistance; and
  11. Willingness to assist with raising money to cover any anticipated court costs, fines, or fees that will not be refunded to the bond fund.

Additionally, we work with organizations to pay bond for people arrested for political activism:

The threat of being incarcerated following a political action because of a high unpayable bond makes the risk of speaking out and taking action significantly greater for Chicago’s most marginalized communities. Raising money to pay bonds then requires groups and individuals to direct their energy away from their central projects to focus on emergency fundraising. The high cost of bond may also redirect community groups’ resources from their substantive work. Chicago Community Bond Fund strives to pay bond for people arrested while working toward progressive social change. By paying bond for people arrested for their political activity, Chicago Community Bond Fund acts as a movement resource in solidarity with Chicago’s diverse movements for liberation.

Depending on CCBF’s current financial circumstances, the number of people arrested, and the total actual or anticipated amount of the bonds, CCBF may either post bond directly or launch a specific fundraising campaign. CCBF occasionally coordinates fundraising campaigns with other groups and/or family members of the arrested people. Any money raised by CCBF that is not used to post bond will become part of CCBF’s revolving bond fund and will be used to post bond for others in the future.

In general, CCBF will only begin an action-specific fundraising campaign after it is clear that bond will be needed. CCBF feels it is important for the integrity of bond fundraising that asks for bond money be used to pay bond. In Chicago, most civil disobedience actions do not result in judges setting monetary bonds. Organizations or individuals planning actions in which people may be at risk of arrest should contact us for more details.

Projects & Press
Resources
Clients

Some of Our Clients

Read Naomi's story
Read Leon's story
Read Lavette's story
Read Morgan's story
Read Maria & Destiny's story
Read Devoureaux's story
Read Lee's story
Read Steven's story
Contact

If You Need Help With Bond

Please do one of the following:

Fill out our form

The best way to get this process started is to fill out this form.

Email us

You can send a very detailed message to us at bond@chicagobond.org.

Call us

You can leave us a message at 1-844-END-BOND.




For Other Inquiries

You Can Email Us

If you would like to donate to CCBF, you can do so right here. Email us at fundraising@chicagobond.org with any questions you have.

For media inquiries, email us at media@chicagobond.org.

If you are interested in volunteering for CCBF, email volunteer@chicagobond.org or complete this form.

For all other inquiries, please email info@chicagobond.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.




Keep up to date

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We’ll occasionally send out a newsletter to tell you about developments in our organization, fundraisers and other things of interest.

Mail Us Something

You can send us mail:

Chicago Community Bond Fund
PO Box 479015
Chicago, IL 60647


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