January 15, 2018 —
The Funding Stage
OFF! will keep people out of Omaha jail, but we need your help. When people are out on bail while awaiting their court appearances, they have better judgement outcomes than people held in pre-trial detention.¹ $500-2000 bail might be an unreachable amount to the families of arrestees, but through community action it is possible to meet the amount.
An initial funding goal of $9,000 will be a reserve to begin bailing out people so they can return to their communities and move their cases forward. At the close of a case, bail money (minus 10% kept by the court, regardless of judgement) is returned and goes back into the fund to use for somebody else. 100% of the money raised goes towards the project. OFF! is volunteer-run and no one gets paid to do this work. If we don’t advocate for ourselves, no one else will.
Cash bail systems cage people suspected of a crime, ultimately it is the poor that are forced to remain behind bars without conviction of any crimes because they cannot afford bail. In reality, high bail amounts serve as ransom against being held in brutal and violent conditions, and makes it almost impossible for families to mount a legal defense for their loved ones. Even short periods of time in jail have shown to have severe consequences due to the sudden isolation, the shock of imprisonment, and the individual’s uncertainty about their future.
Contribute to the fund here: http://fnd.us/01JqZd?ref=sh_775ll0
OFF! is an all-volunteer project to pay bail costs for the most vulnerable in Omaha whose communities cannot afford to pay the ransom themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence, and who would otherwise be incarcerated until trial or forced to plead guilty as a result.
Omaha Freedom Fund! (OFF!) is a revolving bail fund.
The idea of community bail funds are spreading as autonomous groups begin to act on reducing the harm caused by cash bail systems, and the structure of the justice system as a whole. Inability to pay bail creates a debtors’ prison. Being held in jail while awaiting trial means one is more likely to be found guilty and more likely to receive a stiffer sentence. Access to money should not determine presumption in one’s ability to appear in court, especially when study after study shows no correlation between bond amounts and making court appearances. The majority of court cases in the U.S. are settled with plea deals out of desperation, not justice.
Cash bail is a tactic designed to make a guilty plea the favorable option.
Paying bail often pushes families further into crisis. Families make a choice between paying bail or rent; bail or food. Even a short time in jail could trigger evictions, loss of a job, school or university failure, deportation, and even death. In short, the bail process, and the entire penal system is designed to destroy people’s lives.²
Douglas County Corrections averages 18,000 booking arrests per year. Of that 18,000 people, few are given release of own recognizance (ROR), or release without monetary bail.³
Omaha Freedom Fund! has immediate material benefits for many people, and with your help, the potential for self-sustainability. OFF! is a big step in resisting the racist incarceration system, helping people stay in their communities and with their families, and toward offering a political alternative to those directly affected by state oppression and violence. Lastly, with your donation you can directly bring health and solidarity back into people’s lives while they are at a crossroads, and begin building new relationships based on mutual aid and solidarity.
OFF! is but one prong in a prison abolitionist movement committed to tirelessly combating the prison-industrial complex of which it criminalizes Black and indigenous existence, and the pulverization of the poor.
³ http://www.wowt.com/content/news/Jail-medical-care-under-fire-454557403.html (http://archive.is/NnOeD)