$5 Million Paid in Bonds, 750 People Freed
As of this month, Chicago Community Bond Fund has paid over $5 million to free more than 750 people in seven years!
Just since 2020, CCBF has paid $3.5 million of that total for 540 people (and counting!). We are still paying bonds through the end of the year to free as many people as possible. A significant portion of the bonds we paid in 2020 and into 2021 were for protesters during the Black Lives Matter Uprisings, and we continue to support protesters whose release was denied and who are currently incarcerated, making sure they have resources while they are inside.
Money bond in Illinois is set to end on January 1, 2023, meaning someone’s inability to pay will no longer be the reason why they can be held in jail. Since the Pretrial Fairness Act was originally passed in 2021, CCBF and our coalition partners have been fighting opponents of pretrial justice reforms who have weaponized misinformation and spread fear among Illinoisans about the end of money bond. Lies perpetuated by public officials have only intensified in recent months, with a new trailer bill (SB4228) being introduced by some states’ attorneys that would gut the Pretrial Fairness Act and deny all Illinoisians the constitutional right to the presumption of innocence. If passed, the amendments in SB4228 would further fuel mass incarceration, worsen racial disparities, and create a pretrial system that is much worse than the one in place today. We will continue to work with our community partners to be vigilant as the new law goes into full effect and to be a resource to the community during the implementation of the law.
For our community, please know that we will need to close the hotline in anticipation of the Pretrial Fairness Act going into full effect on January 1, 2023. We will be closing the hotline on November 1, 2022, in order to process the significant number of requests that have already been submitted and are still awaiting assistance. Our organization will no longer need to pay bonds after December. Please look for more information to be posted on our website about this soon.
This season is truly a time of reflection for our staff. The work we do is challenging, sometimes heartbreaking, but there are also so many stories from those we have supported that keep us moving forward. Stories like Shannon’s, who reminds all of us that the carceral system presumes guilt instead of innocence for so many folks, especially those who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, or poor. Shannon fought his case while incarcerated on electronic monitoring for over two years before he was acquitted. You can read more stories of those we have bonded out on our website.
We don’t know all that the future holds, but we do know change is on the horizon.
We are so grateful to the community of people that have made our work towards liberation possible. Our ability to process requests, pay bonds, and provide post-release support is only possible because of the volunteers, activists, community partners, donors, and most importantly the loved ones seeking help and providing support. We are hopeful for a future without money bond, and we will continue to work towards a future without carceral systems.