Cash bail has become a topic of conversation around the country as thousands of Americans sit in prison because they don’t have the funds to bail themselves out. Rogers Johnson Jr. and Tyrone Colar understood this as they sat in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison because they couldn’t afford bail. Johnson and Colar two of five men who were bailed out of East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for Father’s Day as a result of a collaboration between The Bail Project, Abstract Concepts, Baton Rouge Branch of the NAACP, BCCTF, Phi Beta Sigma, and The Rouge Collection. The organizations teamed up to bring awareness to the problem with cash bail, and the work being done by The Bail Project to help bring cash bail to an end by helping those in need by bailing them out of jail.
The Bail Project is new to Baton Rouge and lead by Ashley White, a Baton Rouge native who went off to Howard University graduated and did some work on the west coast. White recently came home to help with opening the non-profits local office. The Bail Project’s website says,“there’s a profound injustice at the heart of the American legal system. Those who can afford to pay bail go home to await trial, while those that can’t, whether innocent or guilty, face an unconscionable choice: sit in jail until backlogged courts can hear their case — which can take months, or even years — or plead guilty to go free. The amounts at issue are shockingly low, often $1000 or less.Cash bail criminalizes poverty, devastating low-income communities and disproportionately affecting women and people of color. Pretrial detention accounts for all jail growth in the U.S. in the past 20 years. We cannot end mass incarceration without addressing our indefensible bail system.This is why The Bail Project is focusing on paying people’s bail on an unprecedented scale. We provide immediate relief to those caught in this two-tier system of justice, restoring the presumption of innocence and bringing us closer towards an end to mass incarceration.”
The Bail Project seeks to expand its work around the country to help end cash bail.
Several of the partners of this effort also did a similar effort in May for Mother’s Day in partnership with the YWCA of Baton Rouge to help bring home mother’s for Mother’s Day. Ryan Thompson a recent graduate of the Southern University Law Center approached Eugene Collins of the NAACP, Geno McLaughin of Abstract Concepts, and Gary Chambers of The Rouge Collection with the idea of a bail out for the two holidays. The groups initial thought was to simply raise some funds and help bail some people out. After conversation the group said they wanted to highlight the work of The Bail Project for Father’s Day after working with the YWCA for Mother’s Day.
Those released today are being connected to workforce opportunities. The group plans to team up next year to do a bail out for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day again.