Kenosha Community Bail Fund

THE KENOSHA COMMUNITY BAIL FUND

The Kenosha Community Bail Fund was established in 2021 and is a revolving fund that posts bail for People of Color (POC) who are indigent and cannot afford bail/bond. Our goal is to keep families and communities together and vigorously advocate for the end to cash bail in Kenosha.

POVERTY IS NOT A CRIME

Your donations will help support the revolving fund that posts bail for People of Color (POC) who are indigent and cannot afford bail/bond.

Kenosha Community Bail Fund Application

Fill out this application to see if you are eligible to have you bond posted by the Kenosha Community Bail Fund.

POVERTY SHOULD NOT DETERMINE FREEDOM

 

Every day, Kenoshans, and in particular Black and Brown members of our community languish in the city’s jails awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford bail. Deprived of their freedom, these individuals’ lives are severely disrupted. They risk losing their jobs, housing, and custody of their children without ever first being convicted of a crime. Like many other aspects of our nation’s criminal justice system, people of color are disproportionately subjected to this unfair penalty. The result is a system that criminalizes poverty, enforces systemic racism and strips people who are poor of their presumption of innocence, and insults their right to a fair trial.

ABOUT THE FUND

THE PROBLEM

 

In Kenosha, two people accused of the same crime face very different circumstances depending on their access to money. A person who cannot afford to pay bail will be detained in a city jail for an average of 100 days before appearing before a judge to have their case heard. Someone with the funds to afford bail will remain free over this same period of time. Before sentencing, both individuals are legally presumed innocent until proven guilty. The difference is that one has been locked up before trial because they’re too poor to afford bail while the other has remained free.

This system strips Black and Brown people who are poor of their presumption of innocence and causes great economic and psychological harm to them and their families. Justice is being denied in this way to thousands of people every year in Kenosha.

THE FACTS

Research shows that just three days in jail makes people more likely to lose their jobs and housing, be separated from their families, and become involved in the justice system again in the future.

Inability to pay bail forces people to plead guilty to get out of jail, even if they are innocent and the evidence against them is weak. Black and Brown defendants are nine times more likely to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge if they cannot pay bail.

People who are held on bail receive longer sentences than those who can afford to post bail for the same crimes.

THE SOLUTION

 

The goal of the Kenosha Community Bail Fund (KCBF) is to eliminate money bail in Kenosha. Ending the injustice of money bail requires shifting Kenosha’s bail system from one that is based on wealth to a fairer and more effective system based on a presumption of release before trial, except in the most exceptional circumstances.

OUR APPROACH

 

The Kenosha Community Bail Fund (KCBF) pays bail at the earliest possible moment for Black and Brown people who request our assistance and cannot afford bail — ideally before they are transferred from their holding cell to jail. The Kenosha Community Bail Fund (KCBF) also subjects the impact of its work to evaluation and uses the results to educate policymakers and lobby for reform.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Are you letting bad people out of jail who will commit more crime?

People who are held in pretrial detention have not been convicted of any crime and are presumed innocent. Research shows that the vast majority of defendants who are free awaiting trial are not rearrested for new crimes. Of course, there will always be some risk that people out on bail commit crime. But that same risk exists today – people who can afford to post bail are released awaiting trial. The justice system does not work fairly when some people are detained because of their poverty. That is why we are working to move towards a system that is based on a presumption of release before trial and only detains the small fraction of people that pose a real danger to the community.

By paying bail for people, will the Kenosha Community Bail Fund inadvertently inhibit bail reform?

We intend to do the exact opposite. Our model links direct bail assistance work with evaluation and strong advocacy for bail reform to end money bail. In fact, we believe paying bail for poor people is one of the strongest ways to protest the system and build evidence and political support for policy reform. If the Kenosha Community Bail Fund (KCBF) is successful, it will cease to exist in the near future.