As you read this page, thousands of people are languishing in New York City jails simply because they are poor. Even “low” bail amounts like $500 often surpass one’s ability to pay, and lead to a carceral system where your income matters more than your culpability.
Pre-trial detention causes people to lose their jobs, housing, and social services. Individuals with mental health issues have their treatment and medication schedules interrupted. Parents are separated from their children. And defendants who are detained awaiting trial face significantly worse case outcomes than those who can afford bail.
A marble engraving on the courthouse in downtown Manhattan reads, “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.” If so, we are on shaky footing. Washington Square Legal Services, Inc.'s Bail Fund hopes to strengthen the foundation of our justice system by helping to create a more equal playing field.