During our first Ramadan, BBO was able to raise $153,000 from Muslims around the world.
In 2018 the National Bail Fund Network, a national project of organizations challenging bail systems and mass incarceration, invited Believers Bail Out to be a member of the network. Through this partnership, BBO has established relationships in new places, and expanded our bail efforts beyond Illinois. We currently work with local bond funds in Minnesota and Connecticut and are in conversation with additional organizations. BBO was also invited to speak at the keynote panel during for the National Bail Fund Network’s second annual convening.
Believers Bail Out has proudly stepped into the role of freeing our siblings held by ICE.
The past year has demonstrated that solidarity between communities is needed now more than ever. National and federal government efforts to reduce mass incarceration have stalled and the criminal prosecution of immigrants has spiked. This has created a need for a rapid response bond fund for immigrants who cannot pay the bonds, and as a result, may face deportation. Many immigrants in the United States are fleeing violence, seeking livelihood, and/or trying to remain with family. The immigrant prison-system reinforces racism and xenophobia and further criminalizes marginalized communities.
BBO works with the National Bail Fund Network to provide immigration bond to release people so they may fight their deportation. Muslim immigrants incarcerated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) are often denied religious rights, and are denied halal meals, Qurans, or access to religious advisors.
We remain amazed by and grateful for the support of our community.
In the past year, BBO’s support has freed or helped free eleven people, using a total of $88,000 funds, including four believers held by ICE, and seven believers incarcerated in Cook County jail. Bond amounts ranged between $2,500 to $20,000. To provide support to those remain incarcerated in jails, BBO has added $10 to 46 people’s accounts to phone cards and stamps so that they can communicate with family and supporters. With other Chicago organizations, BBO is working to develop a post release program for believers.
BBO has also held educational and consciousness raising events, including twowebinars in conjunction with Mpower Change, and Twitter town halls to create discussions about the school-to-prison pipeline, and the prison—industrial complex. BBO was selected by the Solidaire Network for a $25,000 grant to grow our efforts. BBO has received media coverage on public radio, national news coverage, and international media.
BBO volunteers continue to provide support to Believers during their incarceration and after their release, attending court appointments and connecting people to support services. Legal volunteers conduct interviews in Illinois jails to identify the needs of Believers requesting assistance from BBO. Adding to this all-volunteer network, in 2019 Believers Bail Out added the support of a paid administrator and a graphic designer. Additional funds have gone towards conference travel and materials to spread the word about BBO’s efforts.
Join us this Ramadan and beyond as we expand these efforts: the communal work of building freedom, fighting anti-Muslim and anti-Black racism, and developing the consciousness of our communities.
Paying bail and bond was the beginning of this journey, striving towards a broader justice is our goal.
Yusuf Saei,ICE Contract Facilities, Including Counties, Continue to Violate the Religious Exercise Rights of Muslim Detainees, American Constitution Society (Apr. 24, 2019), https://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/ice-contract-facilities-including-counties-continue-to-violate-the-religious-exercise-rights-of-muslim-detainees/?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=TakeCareBlog.