A Letter of Gratitude and Farewell: CCBF’s Sunsetting and Next Steps

After years of posting bond and fighting for pretrial freedom, Chicago Community Bond Fund is transitioning to a new phase. As we shared in February, we are no longer posting bond due to the historic implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act, and our plan is to wind down our post-release support and active programs by June 30, 2024. After that, CCBF will end all public programming. Led by our Board of Directors, we will remain a nonprofit organization in order to receive back the outstanding bonds we have paid, which could take several years. Eventually, once the outstanding bonds have been accounted for, the organization will sunset. 

We centered our values of community and abolition throughout the many conversations that led to this decision. While we have been able to reduce harm as a non-profit bond fund, we ultimately decided to sunset the organization and allow more space for other organizations, mutual aid networks, and grassroots groups to keep fighting for freedom. Our main goal of abolishing money bond in Illinois was met, and so CCBF’s chapter is coming to a close. Since 2015, CCBF’s revolving fund has paid 1,076 bonds for 917 people, amounting to $7,380,607.40.

We want to uplift the collective work we are a part of through the Coalition to End Money Bond and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, as it took all of us to end wealth-based pretrial jailing in Illinois and continue the fight against the racist carceral system. To be clear, Illinois has much more to do to end pretrial incarceration. As of April 10 in Cook County, 4,726 people are still jailed pretrial and 1,622 people are incarcerated at home on electronic monitoring. The steps achieved to end money bond happened in community, and we know that the work does not end here – there are many organizations across Illinois continuing to move this vital work forward.

We invite you to join a gathering in the coming weeks where we will share more updates and answer your questions about CCBF’s sunsetting process. Stay tuned for details coming soon!

Our principal message is this: thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We see each of you. We see all of the ways this community has shown up time and time again for folks incarcerated at Cook County Jail and beyond. We see you, our co-founders, including DeSean Pittman’s family, who worked to birth the revolving fund and CCBF. We see you, our volunteers, who have posted bond at all hours of the day. We see you, loved ones of folks inside, who run across California Avenue to hug your child, your sibling, your friend who is now free. We see you, our partner organizations and comrades across Chicago, who come together to encircle people with the care and support they deserve while fighting a case. We see you, our steadfast donors and funders, who continued a revolving fund for eight years. We see you, fellow advocates and activists, who marched, organized, and fought to end money bond and won. We also send a deep appreciation to all current and former CCBF staff members, interns, board members, and advisory committee members. Thank you for investing in this movement and in each other. The powerful story and legacy of CCBF is part of the larger abolitionist movement in Chicago, this country, and the world. 

Our second message is that we are committed to staying in touch. Here are a couple of ways this will happen:

  1. CCBF will continue our critical post-release support to people with active cases for the next three months (through June 2024)
  2. We are in the beginning stages of archiving our work and the story of CCBF, which includes all of you! We are seeking stories, memories, documents, and materials that can be included in the archive. You can email info@chicagobond.org for more information.
  3. CCBF will host an event sometime this summer to celebrate our work and our beautiful community. We’d love to see you there! Stay tuned for a save-the-date.
  4. We recognize that CCBF has been a movement home for many people, and we welcome you to contact us and connect. You can email info@chicagobond.org to set up a coffee date, block off some time to stop by our office, or have a Zoom chat.

Q&A

We understand that people will have questions about this next phase, and we welcome those. Many of the details are still unfolding, so we ask for your patience as we work to make this transition with respect to the folks we are supporting pretrial and our current staff and board members. 

Now that money bond has ended, what work is happening for pretrial justice and freedom?

  • Pretrial Fairness Act implementation: six month update
  • Pretrial Success Act – this appropriations request would expand access to vital services such as mental health, transportation, and child care for people awaiting trial. Take action today and email your legislators here!
  • Sign up for the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice newsletter here.
  • We will share various reports on electronic monitoring and pretrial justice from our partner organizations in the coming weeks and months.

For people who donate currently to CCBF, what is our donation going towards since you are not posting bond? 

  • Thank you for donating, as we are still running programs for the next few months and your contributions help us keep things going!
  • We continue to provide post-release support for people whose bonds we posted. This includes coordinating transportation to and from court, legal advocacy, and referrals to our partner organizations for additional services.
  • We continue outreach and events for people on electronic monitoring, including virtual lunches and a recent workshop series on zine making and storytelling. People directly impacted by electronic monitoring are co-creating a zine that will be published and shared in May or June this year. For more info, please refer to the Zine submission form. Any other questions can be directed to info@chicagobond.org.
  • We also pay commissary regularly for people incarcerated due to the 2020 Uprisings.
  • As we wind down the revolving fund, our staff are now shifting to ensuring bonds are returned to CCBF so that the money can be redistributed.

Will CCBF continue to receive donations after June 30, 2024?

  • We will maintain our current donation platforms through June 2024. After that, we will consolidate and only offer one platform for donations through our website.
  • Should donors choose to contribute to CCBF after June 30, all donations will go towards our administrative costs for managing the bond returns and supporting the grantmaking process for redistribution.

What will CCBF do with the money from the returned bonds over the next several years?

  • We are partnering with Crossroads Fund to co-create a grantmaking process that will redistribute funds to organizations aligned with our values. We are still in the beginning stages of setting this in motion, and we will share more information in the coming months.
  • We will continue our financial commitment to paying commissary and restitution for people incarcerated from the 2020 uprisings.
  • We will also support bond funds in getting folks free outside of Illinois through the National Bail Fund Network.

Again, thank you for being a part of Chicago Community Bond Fund. We look forward to connecting with many of you soon.

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