“Equal justice for all.” These words, engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court building, describe the principle that everyone, rich and poor,
is entitled to equal treatment under the law. Yet, hundreds of thousands of people charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses and not proven guilty,
spend weeks or months behind bars awaiting trial – putting their families, jobs and safety at risk – simply because they cannot afford bail.
The Liberty Fund was established in 2016 as part of a New York City-led strategy to reduce the number of people detained on bail of $2,000 or less. In August of 2017,
The Liberty Fund launched the Citywide Charitable Bail Fund to address this issue by posting bail and providing voluntary social service referrals for individuals charged
with misdemeanor offenses who lack the funds to avoid pretrial jail time.
The Citywide Charitable Bail Fund leverages a unique partnership: the New York City Council to fund operating costs; the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for program evaluation;
The Doe Fund for administrative infrastructure and as a voluntary referral partner for homelessness and unemployment; and a private foundation for the bail funds for the affected individuals.
Today, the Citywide Charitable Bail Fund is the only bail program covering nighttime arraignments citywide. With bond agents posted at courthouses from 6:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., The Liberty
Fund intervenes at a crucial moment – immediately after bail is set and before a defendant is sent to jail – enabling defendants to return home to their jobs, families and lives, while
also bringing significant cost savings to the City.
“Since 2017, the Citywide Charitable Bail Fund has posted $843,450 in bail for 878 men and women, preventing approximately 4,000 days of pretrial detention and costs,” said Dave Long,
Executive Director of The Liberty Fund. “In 2020, when New York State’s sweeping criminal justice reform takes effect and misdemeanor bail is drastically reduced, we will broaden our focus
to provide pretrial case management to individuals released on their own recognizance with the goal of bringing equality of justice to all New Yorkers.”