Danny Glover: Freedom Should Be Free

As you hear this message, nearly half a million
people, who are presumed innocent, are sitting in jail
cells across America. Most of them are there for one reason only: they cannot afford cash
bail. I believe no one should be sitting behind bars before trial, away from their family
and community, simply because they don’t have enough money to pay bail. I believe that
the presumption of innocence should protect us equally, regardless of how much money we
make, the color of our skin, your background, and yes – even the accusation. I believe
that Freedom Should Be Free. Over the past two decades, cash bail has fueled mass incarceration
in America. Jails have expanded massively in towns and cities only to incarcerate people
who are presumed innocent but cannot afford the price of their freedom. As a result, 2.5
million people are incarcerated each year due to cash bail that is beyond their reach.
That’s bigger – by far– than most American cities. Imagine the families that are torn
apart. Imagine the unpaid bills accumulating. Jobs lost. School days missed. The eviction
notices. The days, months, and even years, that people will never get back. Imagine the
tens of thousands of people who every day are forced to choose between pleading guilty
to go home or holding on to their innocence behind bars. All because they cannot pay bail.
The injustice disproportionately harms people of color. Black and Latino communities account
for more than 50% of those held before trial nationwide and up to 90% in some cities. So
cash bail also drives racial disparities in the criminal justice system at large. I believe
this is unjust, immoral, and unnecessary and also terribly expensive. American taxpayers
spend $14 billion dollars annually incarcerating people before trial. That’s nearly $40 million
dollars a day. It’s time to end the injustice of cash bail. It’s time to re-envision a more
just and equitable system. One that protects our right to a fair trial and does not put
a price tag on freedom. One that treats everyone with respect and dignity. The Bail Project
is our dream to reimagine just that. For the past year, our teams on the ground have been
setting up sites in cities across America, paying bails and securing freedom for thousands
of people, reuniting families, and restoring the presumption of innocence – one person,
one bail at a time. Through this work we are demonstrating that with effective court notifications
and support, people come back to court. We are demonstrating that cash bail is not necessary,
that we can take money out of the justice equation and instead focus on what people
really need. Transportation. Healthcare. A safe place to call home. Our national bail
fund revolves as people come back to court and bail money is returned, and donations
of all sizes are recycled over and over again to help additional people. This is a powerful
tool that we will continue using until the day freedom is truly free and justice is equal
to all of us. I believe that together we can end cash bail and create a vision of justice
we can be proud of – one that heals and restores. But the road is long and it will
take all of us to get there. Will you join us?

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