Community Bail Fund

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OUR MISSION

The RMF Community Bail Fund collaborates with trusted partners to create a fund that will: 1) release defendants who cannot afford bail, providing them with support, information and referrals that can assist them until trial, and 2) advocate for shrinking and eventually eliminating the cash bail system.

The RMF Community Bail Fund core group consists of RMF members who wanted to focus on the problem of bail. We are all volunteers. Our activities are funded through donations, and all of those donations go toward our mission. Once we are fully operational, we will need more volunteers.



WHAT IS CASH BAIL? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM A BAIL BOND?

Cash Bail is money paid to release an accused person from jail, with the promise that they will appear for trial. Failure to appear means forfeiting bail. The RMF Community Bail Fund will pay bail in full. After trial, bail will be returned to the Bail Fund.

Bail Bond is a fee paid to a third party like a bail bonds company, usually 10% of the total bail, in order to release the accused from jail. If the defendant does not appear for trial, the company must pay the full bail amount to the court. The defendant does not receive a refund of the fee paid to the company.

WHY DOES COLUMBIA NEED A BAIL FUND?

• “Average” bail in Boone County is difficult to calculate, as it can change from week to week. You can see from the Bail Schedule that it can be several hundred for misdemeanors or several thousand for low level felonies.

• For people who are unemployed or living on the edge, any amount of bail causes unjust hardship for people held in jail before trial because they cannot afford to pay.

• Accused have not been convicted of crime, but they are being punished by being held in jail until trial.

• Accused are prevented from working, going to school, taking care of families.

• Accused who can pay, or whose families can pay, spend little time in jail and are free to live their lives in the community until trial.

DO YOU NEED HELP WITH BAIL? 
GET HELP HERE!

Get Involved! Volunteer to Help

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Here are descriptions of each volunteer category:

• Legal Team Member: Attorney for a legal support team who could answer questions or give general advice. 

• Bail Team Member: This is the core of our work. When we receive a call from a client, the bail team member on call coordinates paying bail -- requesting and obtaining funds, driving to the jail, and completing paperwork with the client. Follow up may entail contacting the client and attending court with them as their case proceeds.
 
• Advocacy Team: Bail reform is a topic of state law and court policy, and this team would stay on top of the politics of bail. When bail legislation comes up in the General Assembly, we need people to visit or contact legislators. Advocates also get the word out to others about social actions they can take.
 
• Speakers Bureau: The Bail Fund has a short slide show for community groups, for both volunteer recruitment and fundraising. Speakers would arrange for time on group agendas, make presentations, and encourage group members to volunteer and/or donate.
 
• Community Outreach Team: Facebook is not the best way to reach potential clients. Members of this team would spread the word about the availability of our services throughout the community, in multiple ways, including face to face canvassing.

• Graphic Design Team: If you have skills for making posters, flyers, media posts, this would be the team for you.

Donate to the Bail Fund

Mail a check to: 

Race Matters, Friends 
Community Bail Fund 
P.O. Box 7972 Columbia, MO 65203
Donate to the Fund

Additional Resources

The Bail Project
Group of nationally funded bail projects, including St. Louis.
National Bail Fund Network
Network of local community bail funds.
Marshall Fund
Curated links to news on bail reform.
Freedom Should Be Free
A history of bail funds in the U.S.
Center for Court Innovation
Organization working on a criminal justice change, including bail reform.
ACLU
American Civil Liberties Union bail reform page
The Appeal
Journalism and advocacy on criminal justice, including bail.
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