The Price of Justice: America’s Unfair Bail and Prosecution System

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 -
9:00am to 11:00am EDT
Philanthropy New York, 1500 Broadway, 7th Floor, NYC
Members of PNY & Partner Orgs: 
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This program is the third in the four-part Ending the Criminalization of Poverty series.

The justice reform system in the United States has made one thing clear: the constitutional principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is only reserved for those who can afford it. Every day, approximately 450,000 people – often unconvicted of any crime and overwhelmingly from communities of color and the poorest third of society – sit in jail simply because they cannot pay bail or post-conviction fines and fee. This happens despite a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that outlawed jailing individuals for inability to pay fees, and a 2016 White House condemnation of money bail as “a crude way to screen pretrial defendants for their risk of flight or danger to the community.”

So why has the bail system continued to criminalize the poor?

Because states and municipalities rely on money collected from defendants to fund their operating budgets, and a host of actors – including bail bond companies, prosecutors, judges, and law and order politicians- who are invested in upholding a system that benefits them. Join us for a conversation with leading justice reform experts – from inside and outside of the courtroom – on the bail reform and prosecutorial reform policies that are challenging courts and criminal justice systems across the nation.

This program will also focus on New York City’s particular importance in the conversation. As a leader in innovations to the bail, fines, and fees system, and with the 2017 District Attorney elections in Brooklyn and Manhattan, NYC is at a moment of dramatic change. Central to this change, however, must be understanding the importance of race in the incarceration cycle:  90% of those given bail instead of release are people of color, and 95% of elected prosecutors are white – 83% of them are men. Join us to hear about the mobilizing efforts – both online and at the grassroots level – that are addressing this and how philanthropy is playing its part in supporting them.  

  • The impact of bail, fines, and fees throughout arrest, pretrial detention, and incarceration process, and the importance of bail reform in the #CLOSErikers Campaign
  • Innovative alternatives to bail, fines, fees, and sentencing at the national and local NYC level
  • The importance of applying a racial equity and gender lens to the role of prosecutors in the criminal justice system
  • Advocacy and grassroots efforts around bail reform and prosecutor accountability
  • Initiatives philanthropy is supporting to address bail and prosecutorial reform


Please also join us on May 16th for Discuss Closing Rikers with Judge Jonathan Lippmann and Justice Reform Funders, where we will explore the Commission's report and how stakeholders can come together to implement reccomendations.

Designed for

All interested funders.


8:45 - 9:00 AM  Check-in
9:00 - 11:00 AM  Program

Registration is required by May 16th.

Members: To register yourself and/or a colleague at your organization, please log in and click the Register Now link above. (no fee)

Non-Member Funders: Please email ($150 fee).

Please email with any questions.

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