Reforming the Justice System, One Donation at a Time

The Northwest Community Bail Fund

The current money bail system punishes the impoverished. The Northwest Community Bail Fund (NCBF) is showing the justice system that it doesn’t have to be that way.

In the United States, 443,000 people are held in jail prior to conviction while they await their trial date.

When you can’t afford to pay bail, the only way to get out of jail — and back to one’s life, work, school, and family — is to turn to the for-profit bail bond industry that charges fees for freedom, even for people found innocent.

Nonprofit bail funds are different. When the community donates to the Bail Fund, that pool of money gets used to post bail and get people free.

When they show up to court, that money is then returned to the Bail Fund to be used again and again. Clients are not charged fees, and are not kept in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.

We worked with the NCBF to create a video to raise awareness of money bail and the destructive practice of the bail bonds industry while highlighting the work of NCBF so more people can donate to the fund.

For the video, Block by Block interviewed community advocates, lawyers, and professors to help an audience understand how bail works along with its inequities.

However, you can’t tell an authentic story about bail without hearing from someone who experienced the system.

But finding the right person who can tell their story can be challenging. People aren’t so often eager to relive the moment when they got arrested, much less recount it in front of a camera.

For this video, that took time, both to make contact with someone and make sure they were comfortable. But the right person came forward.

And so at the heart of this video is the story of a former NCBF client. In the video, Robby shares his experience of getting arrested, his bail being set to $2,500, and his palpable relief when it was paid in full by the Bail Fund.

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