We Must Save Ourselves: Why a Bail Fund, Why Now?
We must save ourselves, and we must do it now. That is the spirit underpinning the Hawaii Community Bail Fund. In this inaugural post on our justice blog, we’d like to explain that spirit.
Our justice system is anything but just. It’s not flawed. It functions as its designed. It’s not in a crisis. We’ve been here for some time. It is an efficient mechanism for preserving power, privilege, and wealth; for stifling social mobility; and for keeping the people divided and fearful of each other. Our system produces injustice.
Since it is such an effective injustice system that has been developed by those who wield enormous power, we cannot depend on them to create something different. One day, perhaps our political system will yield a true justice system, and there’s nothing wrong in working towards that. But that day is not coming soon, and in the meantime, actual lives are being crushed. Living, breathing, loving humans are suffering unjustly, unnecessarily.
We do not have to wait though. We can work outside of the system, outside of government to reduce that injustice and suffering. That’s not radical praxis, it’s community solidarity.
One way to manifest that solidarity is freeing those imprisoned by the state. Maybe some people are dangerous enough that they need to be separated from us forcibly, but the vast majority are not. The vast majority of those behind bars pose no danger. It’s our moral imperative to free them if we can. That’s where the bail fund comes in.
Cash bail is a travesty that imprisons the poor for being poor, sacrificing public safety and general wellness along the way. If you want more detailed information on how cash bail functions (fails), please see our about page. Simply though: if you have the cash you get out on bail. If you’re poor you stay in jail awaiting trial. That serves no one besides the bail industry and their Wall Street sponsors, and it harms us all.
We can fight them though. We can free our fellow workers, neighbors, comrades. The bail fund is a revolving fund, meaning the money returns after it’s been temporarily used, that we put up to free those who are languishing in cages for minor infractions against the state (and sometimes no infraction at all). This is something we, the community, can do together to take small steps to dismantle a violent, unjust apparatus that affects us all.
We also know this bail fund serves occupied territory.
Join us. Donate if you can. Spread the word if you cannot. And, if you have the interest, follow this blog. We are most interested in sharing the stories of those who suffer at the hands of the criminal injustice system, so if you have one, or know someone who does, consider authoring a post. We can assist with writing it, all we need is you to tell your story. In addition to that we will try to keep you updated on important developments in justice politics in Hawaii and beyond, and we’ll invite guest authors from the academy and activist community to share their perspectives.
This is just a tiny step, but as we learn to crawl, we’ll learn to walk and run. Let’s work together to tear down this abomination and build a more just world.
In solidarity and peace.