The Open Philanthropy Project awarded a grant of $404,800 to the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund (BCBF) to support its National Bail Fund Network, led by Pilar Weiss. This grant falls within Open Philanthropy's work on criminal justice reform.
BCBF is a nonprofit organization that pays bail amounts of $2,000 or less for misdemeanor defendants who cannot otherwise afford to pay bail. This approach allows defendants to return home rather than going to jail while awaiting trial, and is intended to avoid coerced guilty pleas and other harms caused by pre-trial detention. In addition to its local work, BCBF provides strategic and technical assistance to a broad range of organizations considering establishing bail funds in other jurisdictions.
The National Bail Fund Network is comprised of bail funds around the country—including immigration and movement-oriented funds as well as more traditional community-based funds engaging with local criminal justice systems—which pay bail for defendants who cannot otherwise afford to pay bail.
Open Philanthropy's Program Officer for Criminal Justice Reform, Chloe Cockburn, believes that organizing and advocacy in partnership with bail funds can help increase media attention and shift public support in favor of needed policy reforms, as well as put pressure on local systems to change practices.