The Orange County Bail/Bond Justice Project formed recently to advocate for creating a more just bail and pretrial system in Orange County. Started as a faith-based project of Binkley Baptist Church in January, the organization was certified as a nonprofit on Sept. 30.
The current bail system favors those who can pay to get out of jail during the pretrial period, said Heather Hunt, research associate in the UNC School of Law. Those who can't post bail are unable to go to their jobs and are more likely to get convicted.
If you cannot afford to pay bail, “you’re stuck,” she said.
Kimberly Brewer, chairperson of the project, said the injustice is present in courts all across the state, not just Orange County. But, the organization is working to establish a $50,000 revolving bail fund that will be used to post low-cost bail for people in the county who cannot afford to pay it.
Basic requirements to be chosen for assistance are:
- Bail of $3,000 or less
- Must live in and be charged in Orange County
- The person has no hold that would preclude their release
- The person has no recent history of multiple failures to appear in court
The group hopes to begin posting bail for defendants in January.
Carlton Chambers, a justice-impacted person who was asked to join the steering committee for the organization after speaking at an event at Binkley Baptist Church, said the fund is “just a small seed planted.”
“I like to look into the future, and I don’t think this is something that’ll stop,” Chambers said.