CHICAGO (AP) – Activists who say too many poor people are unfairly languishing in U.S. jails are increasingly deploying a new tactic: Bailing out strangers. Community groups are collecting donations from individuals, churches and other organizations in more than a dozen cities, and have bailed out several thousand people in the last few years. And so far, the overwhelming majority of defendants still show up for court even when they have no money on the line, according to the groups.
The bail funds are a step toward a larger goal for some legal reform activists: abolishing the cash bail system. Advocates say it creates two unequal tiers of justice: one for people who can afford bail and one for people who can’t.