Sandra Bland didn't have to die.
Can you chip in $15 and help us end the corrupt bail bond system that lead to Sandra's death before it claims more Black lives ?
This week, it was announced that a grand jury in Waller County, Texas will not indict anyone in connection to the death of Sandra Bland. Although the grand jury continues to investigate other aspects of the incident, including Sandra's arrest, it is devastating to see another Black woman’s life lost in police custody and no one is held accountable. We continue to stand with Sandra’s family and uplift their demand for individual accountability but we also recognize that she would be alive today were it not for the corrupt, exploitative, and discriminatory system of money bail that exists in Waller County and around our country.
For years, America's broken and discriminatory money bail system has been a well kept secret – but the tragic deaths of Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, Ralkina Jones and Jamycheal Mitchell have shown a national spotlight on the reality that for Black people, money bail can be the difference between life and death. A number of places — Oregon, Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois, DC — have already banned for-profit bail and it's time for every state in the country to do the same.1
Will you chip in $15 to support our efforts to end money bail and spare another Black life from undergoing jail time and potentially death before they're even convicted of a crime?
While the process varies slightly by state or city, bail bonds generally work like this: When a person is arrested, a judge decides whether or not they will be released prior to trial and if so on what conditions. In recent years, money bail has become far more common, which means judges require people to pay in order to be released. According to the latest data, the average bail amount is $90,000, and for low income Black folks – who face 35% higher bail than white people for the same charges – it's often an impossible price to pay for your freedom.23 Right now,there are more than 730,000 people in jail simply because they cannot afford to pay bail and they are more likely to lose their jobs, lose custody of their children, accept an unjust plea bargain and be convicted than people not incarcerated before trial.4
We didn't get here by accident. In the past 20 years, the average bail amount and the number of for-profit bail bond companies have exploded due to the American Bail Coalition’s lobbying efforts within the American Legislative Exchange Council.5 Together, legislators and corporations have passed bills that require judges to use money bail instead of effective alternative pre-trial services, such as notifying someone of an up and coming court date by mail, which has been proven to be even more effective than money bail.6 The United States and Philippines are the only two countries in the world with major bail bond industries; in Canada you can face criminal charges similar to obstruction of justice equal or bribing a juror for acting as a bail bondsmen.7
Sandra Bland is the face of money bail in America. Last month, more than 3,000 ColorOfChange members donated to hire a private investigator to investigate systemic racism in Waller County after her tragic death. We uncovered a corrupt and possibly illegal bail bond system that played a key role her death.8 After Officer Brian Encinia assaulted and unjustly arrested Sandra, she was jailed and held on an exorbitant $5,000 bail. She then called the local bail bondsmen — a man named Joe Booker — who local officials say is likely bribing jail staff for "clients," which means he is turning a profit off the backs of Black folks targeted by discriminatory policing.9 While we still don't know everything that led to Sandra's death, it's possible that she would be alive today if she hadn't been wrongfully arrested and locked in jail on bail.
Stand with us to potentially save another Black life by ending money bail in our country. Will you donate $15 to bring an end to bail bond profiteers?
Thanks and peace,
Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Enchanta and the rest of the ColorOfChange team
1. "Here's What Sandra Bland's Death Says About Our Broken Bail System" MotherJones 7-27-2015
2. "Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Using Money for Bail," Justice Policy Institute 09-11-2012
3. "Illegal Globally, Bail for Profit Remains in U.S.," New York Times 01-28-2008
4. "Illegal Globally, Bail for Profit Remains in U.S.," New York Times 01-28-2008
5. "Race and Prison," Drug War Facts 12-31-2013
6. "Illegal Globally, Bail for Profit Remains in U.S.," New York Times 01-28-2008
7. "Illegal Globally, Bail for Profit Remains in U.S.," New York Times 01-28-2008 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5257?t=18&akid=5212.1942551.ziMtL5
8. "Inside the Wild, Shadowy, and Highly Lucrative Bail Industry" Mother Jones May/June 2014 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5667?t=20&akid=5212.1942551.ziMtL5
9. "Illegal Globally, Bail for Profit Remains in U.S.," New York Times 01-28-2008
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