Project updates Blog
To date, we have served multiple individuals and paid bond on their behalf primarily in the Chicago and Minneapolis area, having been identified through assistance from their families as well as the Chicago Community Bond Fund.
Below is a running list of costs and fees for simple items that the Believers Bail Out is encountering at jails across the country. We want to hear from you! Share with us the costs and fees that Muslims and others have to pay in the jails and prisons near you. This will be regularly updated:
Service Fees on Credit Cards when paying bond in Cook County (IL):
Bond is $1.00 - $750.00 = 10% service fee (ie. $750 bond + $75 fee = $825 charge)
Bond is $750.00 - $1500.00 = 9% service fee
Bond is $1500.01 and up = 8% service fee
English-language Bible: $7.99
Spanish-language Bible: $10.20
Bath towel: $6.75
Reading glasses: $6.56
Boxers/briefs: ranging from $3.86 to $6.89 (depending on size)
Thermals: ranging from $6.56 to $7.50 (depending on size)
Tennis shoes: $39.88
Bras: $11.03 to $13.78 (depending on size)
12/21 BBO Project Updates
“Being poor is expensive.” We at Believers Bail Out find this statement to be very true. As we work to Bail Out Believers from pre-trial incarceration, we have learned first-hand how the prison system, money lenders, and local, state, and federal governments continue to punish and prey on the poor by charging high prices and fees for people’s basic needs. Fellow Muslims are trapped in jails before going to trial because they cannot afford to pay their money bails. While they are in pre-trial incarceration, they and their families must then pay the jail commissary to stay in touch, to read a Qur’an, and to get basic things like bath towels, reading glasses, and undergarments. This system punishes poor people with money bail, then continues to prey on them and their families while they are in prison.
Money bail is just the start of how being criminalized is costly both financially and socially. In Chicago, where Believers Bail Out is based, the costs and fees of being held at Cook County Jail quickly add up. The jail’s commissary controls access to all of the items that an incarcerated person can purchase, including very basic items like soap, deodorant, and materials to communicate with people outside of the jail. For example, if you want to send a letter, a pen is $.55, fifty sheets of paper are $.72 and a stamped envelope is $0.62. Ten-minute phone cards cost $10. That is $1 a minute! It is expensive to stay in touch with family and friends and even lawyers while you are awaiting trial. And it is expensive to receive money to spend in jail.
If family members and friends want to make sure you have funds to purchase items like paper and envelopes while in the jail, it will cost them $1.20 for a money order at the post office, but it will take up to five days to process. If someone’s mother pays cash at the jail to add money to “the books” of her son, the fee starts at $9.95. In another case, we used Moneygram, an online service to put $20 on someone’s account. We were charged an additional $9.95 in fees, almost an additional 50%! This is just one example of how expensive it is for a family to stay in touch while someone is detained in Cook County Jail. If one wants to read a sacred text, a Qur’an costs $27.01, while an English-language Bible is $7.99 and a Spanish-language Bible is $10.20. The different prices are stunning, yet this is just a small sample of how municipal jails and private companies extract money from poor people. The poor subsidize their own criminalization at every step in the criminal justice system: policing, jails, courts, prisons, electronic monitoring, etc.
Last Ramadan, Muslims across the world generously gave over $100,000 to pay money bail and help their fellow Muslims. These funds have not only helped to pay money bail but also to pay a small part of these exorbitant costs and fees, so that we can be in touch with our Muslim siblings to facilitate their release. Our goal is to end this system of exploitation and to free our fellow Muslims from these cages.
Thank you for your continued support.
11/28 BBO Project Updates
As-salaam alaykum. Believers Bail Out has been busy getting the word out to Muslim detainees in Cook County Jail in Chicago about our bail fund. We are sending letters and putting funds on detainees' accounts (also known as trust funds or books) so that they can get envelopes, stamps, and phone cards to communicate with us and their loved ones. Stay tuned for an upcoming article from us about what we've learned through that process in which we discuss the further injustices our siblings and their families suffer as they deal with pre-trial detention and incarceration.
We are currently developing relationships with bond funds in three pilot cities in the Midwest and East Coast, so that we can free more people from pre-trial and immigrant detention. As we begin to branch out to free Muslims in other pilot cities, we are pleased to announce that we worked with the Minnesota Freedom Fund to pay the money bail of a brother in Minneapolis ICE detention. He has been a member of the Minnesota community for twenty years, and he is now back in the community, at home and doing well. The brothers we payed money bail for this past summer continue to fight their cases and are able to do so while working and supporting their families, being with their loved ones, and having more communication with their lawyers. Thank you for making this possible!
If you did not get a chance to see it, check out this webinar we did with M-Power Change on how the criminalization of our children often begins in schools (including pre-schools!) leading to what has been called the School to Prison pipeline.
If you are looking for ways to get more involved in Believers Bail Out, please let us know! We are looking for interns to assist in social media and for people interested in writing letters to those we cannot bail out.
9/1 BBO Project Updates
As Salaam Alaykum!
The Believers Bail Out Ramadan Campaign was a huge success. We brought together thousands of supporters across the country - and even the globe - to free incarcerated Muslims in the sacred month. Alhamdulillah! We are still hard at work, using the funds we collected to continue bailing out Believers and preparing for next Ramadan. We look forward to sharing more specifics about the Believers we are bailing out as they complete their cases.
We will be meeting with the National Bail Fund Network next week as we think about how we can expand our reach nationally. If you are interested in starting a local BBO chapter in your area, now is a good time to get some people together to start planning for Ramadan 2019! Here is a link to other bail funds that may be in your area that you could potentially partner up with. Our relationship with the Chicago Community Bond Fund has been essential in doing this work.
Meanwhile, we are trying to educate ourselves and our communities and build a movement to end money bail and mass incarceration.