The decisions of bail funds, often used to help low-level offenders out of jail, are under scrutiny by the American Bail Coalition following nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death.
Jeffrey Clayton, executive director of the American Bail Coalition, said some of the funds are bailing out people charged with violent crimes.
“We can’t find the bails that are nonviolent protesters that are simply, you know, peacefully protesting or even not peacefully protesting,” Clayton said. “What we’re finding is serious assault, a police officer homicide, serious arson charges are the only ones who are having to post bail.”
According to Clayton, only one state, New York, regulates bail funds.
“It’s open season right now,” he said. “And without regulation, dark money from foreign governments could come into this destabilized criminal justice system. If bail is imposed, they could just simply bail them out and have no accountability or anything like that.”
Bail funds don’t have arrest powers because they are third parties, unlike traditional bail bondsman, Clayton said.
“I think what we determined was that the narrative that the police continue to arrest people simply because they’re black, or they’re poor, is ridiculous,” he said. “The only people that are really going to jail and that are really getting bailed out are people who did something bad.”
Several bail funds operate in Missouri, including the Kansas City Community Bail Fund.
“Through the use of a revolving fund, our mission is to provide bail for people without the resources to post their own bail while awaiting trial — giving them a higher chance of a positive outcome in their case,” the fund’s mission statement reads.