Mass. Bail Fund is rooted in social justice
The cash bail system must be abolished as a discriminatory practice that disproportionately harms our Black, Latinx, and low-income neighbors. Until that goal can be realized, the Massachusetts Bail Fund must continue its important, life-saving work. Andrea Estes’s “Fund quickens pace of freeing defendants” (Page A1, July 20) paints an unfair picture of the work of the fund.
As an organization founded by social workers, a profession rooted in social justice, and committed to eliminating the cash bail system, the Massachusetts Bail Fund upholds a core tenet of our judicial system — innocent until proved guilty. Posting bail is not only legal, but it also decreases the risks of homelessness and unemployment for the accused, helps keep families together, and reduces the pressure to accept a plea bargain.
Subjecting people to incarceration while presumed innocent in the midst of the co-occurring public health emergencies of racism and COVID-19 runs counter to the rallying cries in our streets to find a different way to address public safety and a path toward racial justice. We must stand in solidarity with the Massachusetts Bail Fund and reject the distorted narrative this article supposes.
National Association of Social Workers
Pretrial detention is not what keeps us safe
I regularly donate to and volunteer with the Massachusetts Bail Fund. I was appalled at what I read in “Fund quickens pace of freeing defendants.” Andrea Estes does not address what actually keeps people safe. Pretrial detention does not protect our communities — it does the opposite. Pretrial detention separates families, destroys the presumption of innocence, and disproportionately harms people of color.
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross calls the release of defendants charged with violent crimes “a total injustice.” To allow the commissioner’s offensive comments to sit without rebuttal suggests that the Globe is not taking seriously the voices yelling in the street that jails, prisons, and police do not create public safety.
Public safety comes not through state violence but through funding what our communities need: housing, treatment, education, economic opportunity, the arts, community centers, and community-led programs.
Especially during this pandemic, holding people in indefinite pretrial detention is life-threatening, since courts are unable to proceed promptly with cases and jails suffer from some of the most acute outbreaks in the state.
I support the Massachusetts Bail Fund precisely because it is a nonjudgmental, abolitionist organization. I support it because it is dedicated to true public safety.
Fund’s eagerness to free any defendant should give donors pause
Cry me a river for Joel Rodriguez, whose bail was posted by the Massachusetts Bail Fund. We’re told by supporters of the fund that we should celebrate his release from jail after the fund put up $1,100 to spring him, despite outstanding assault and harassment charges and a rap sheet of similar charges to which he had pleaded guilty.
I’m sure the fund’s action was greeted with joy by Rodriguez’s accusers, who might have something to say about “the rage that got him locked up in the first place,” as the reporter put it.
The general public will sleep well in their beds tonight knowing their safety and security are first in the minds of fund officials and donors. The fund’s eagerness to assist other defendants, some charged with violent firearms offenses, ought to give pause to anyone considering chipping in to this cause.
These defendants are held because they represent a serious threat to public safety, not because they were picked on by police. We have jails for this purpose.
As for Rodriquez, who says, “I’m pretty sure I’m not coming back” to jail, I have to say that based on his record, I’m pretty sure he is.
Scott St. Clair
Cash bail creates two systems of ‘justice’
I am a proud supporter of the Massachusetts Bail Fund. I know full well that the organization does not selectively choose who should be bailed out, and I support it because of this.
What the fund’s supporters understand is that cash bail creates two different systems of so-called justice — one for poor and working-class people and one for those who can afford it. It means that poor and working-class people are locked in jail before their trials, interrupting employment, family life, and community life. Innocent until proved guilty, rather than a central tenet of our justice system, is a privilege only afforded to those who can afford it.
This is a racial justice issue. People of color, especially Black people, are both more likely to be arrested than white people for the same suspected crimes and less likely to be able to pay cash bail due to centuries of systemic racism. Black people are also forced to pay higher median bail amounts for the same suspected crimes as white people. All of this creates a system that is racist and classist to the core.
I couldn’t be more grateful for the work that the Massachusetts Bail Fund is doing to change this horrific system.
An even-handed report
Kudos to Andrea Estes for doing her homework on the Massachusetts Bail Fund. She interviewed all the players, including the fund’s executive director, lawyers, released defendants, victims’ advocates, and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, without taking sides.
Maybe a follow-up article will report on where the money for the bail fund is coming from.
Joseph E. Coffey