Cash Bail


Cash bail is a way for people who have been arrested and charged with a crime to be released from jail while they await trial. In most cases, a person who is arrested will be taken to a jail facility, where they will be held until they can be released on bail or until their case is resolved in court.

If a person is eligible for bail, a judge will set an amount that must be paid in order for the person to be released from jail. This amount is typically based on the severity of the crime that the person is accused of, as well as the person’s criminal history and their ties to the community.

To be released on bail, a person must either pay the bail amount in cash or use a bail bond agent to secure their release. If the person pays the bail amount in cash, they will get the money back after they appear in court as required. If they use a bail bond agent, they will pay a fee, which is typically a percentage of the bail amount, and the bail bond agent will post the bail on their behalf.

If the person fails to appear in court as required, they may forfeit the bail amount or the bail bond agent may pursue them for the full amount of the bail.

The majority of people in prisons or jails in the U.S. awaiting charges and cannot afford to meet cash bail to return home. This is part of the injustice of our criminal legal system, which is why organizations are working to abolish it.

Take Action

Here’s how you can rally against cash bail.

Support The Bail Project

The Bail Project is a national nonprofit organization that pays bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence.

Donate to a Bail Fund Near You

Google “Bail Fund [Your City/State]” to find a local bail fund. These organizations collect funds and give them directly to those incarcerated that can’t make cash bail.

Advocate to Abolish Cash Bail

Local and state officials are working hard to abolish cash bail across the U.S. How is that process unfolding where you live? Learn more and contact your elected officials to let them know you support ending cash bail.

Learn More

Ending the Cash Bail System in America

Most people in pretrial detention in the U.S. are incarcerated because they cannot afford to pay their cash bail.

The Continued Urgency to Close Rikers Island

Activists call for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex amid its ongoing “humanitarian crisis” that has seen a rise in deaths.

Held for Ransom: The Right to Protest and Reality of Cash Bail

The cash bail system works within a flawed structure that forces people, mainly Black and Brown, to pay for their freedom.

Related Words and Phrases

Join the newsletter crew.

Learn a new term each day in our free daily newsletter.

Start Typing