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. For a link to costs and fees of day to day items that we are encountering at jails across the country, please visit our “Prison Costs and Fees” page.
2/3 BBO Project Updates
As salaam alaykum!
We hope that you and your loved ones are well and warm this winter. We have lots of great updates and information to share!
First, we recently freed four more brothers! One is a young man in Chicago who is now back at home with his family and getting the support he needs, two are fathers who will now be back with their children, and another is a brother who we were able to get out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New Mexico. This is our second ICE detention case; the first was for a brother in Minneapolis. We have been really excited about expanding our network nationally to assist Muslims throughout the country and our grateful to the National Bail Fund Network for facilitating these connections. All these people will now be able to fight their cases from a position of freedom, so thank you and may Allah bless you for helping make this possible. Please continue to keep our incarcerated kin in your prayers.
If you live in Boston, Minneapolis, or New Haven, CT, and are interested in getting more involved with Believers Bail Out, let us know! We are currently working with bond funds in those areas to replicate some of the work we are doing in Chicago.
Also, we recently received a grant from the Solidaire Network! We are going to use these funds to cover some of our admin costs (like the website, photocopying, and bookkeeping) and convene a meeting of our national volunteers, inshaAllah. Since all the funds we raise from the community go directly into facilitating the release and post-bond support of Believers from pre-trial and immigration detention, getting this grant will help us build a stronger movement for abolishing this unjust system!
We recently wrote a short article about some of the unforeseen costs that detainees and their loved ones face once they are in Cook County Jail. Check it out here: https://believersbailout.org/prison-costs-and-fees/
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.