JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A national nonprofit working to end mass incarceration expanded its reach to Jacksonville. The Bail Project helps low-income defendants pay bail and get out of the county’s pre-trial detention facility.
The Bail Project’s new Jacksonville branch is the nonprofit’s third location in Florida.
Its other two locations are in Orlando and Pensacola. However, Duval County has the highest jail incarceration rate across all of Florida -- which increased by 270% in the past 45 years, according to data from the Bail Project.
Beau Rudder, the organization’s Southern Regional Director, said the problem starts when people spend pre-trial behind bars because they can’t make bail.
“They haven’t been convicted of anything and they’re only there mostly because they can’t pay to get out. And out of all of those people about half of those folks that are there for pre-trial stay for the whole time that their case lasts,” Rudder said.
In Duval County, the Bail Project found that the county’s jail admissions are majority Black -- disproportionate to the demographics of the county itself.
Based on the latest data from the U.S. Census, Black or African Americans make up just 31%B of the population.
“This disproportionately affects black people and people of color in general. We’re here to create a more fair and equitable justice system. And we want to provide local solutions to decrease the amount of people held in pre-trial,” Rudder said.
One of the solutions that the Bail Project is offering is paying for bail for low-income defendants.
To be chosen as a client, a defendant must be referred to the organization and then must be interviewed.
The nonprofit also provides pre-trial support to prevent people from getting re-entangled in the criminal justice system.
“We endeavor to create a supportive plan to get them connected to those community-based services. So, for instance like housing, mental health treatment, drug treatment, those sorts of things,” Rudder said.
For more information on the Bail Project, visit https://bailproject.org/.