Muslims in the US city of Chicago are helping liberate incarcerated individuals from pre-trial detention this Ramadan.
Believers Bail Out is a programme that encourages Muslims to contribute zakat – a tax on wealth that is a pillar of Islam – towards money bail bonds for jailed pre-trial defendants. The project is just one of several crowdsourced schemes under the #endmoneybail hashtag on social media.
About 536,000 people are currently held in pre-trial detention in the United States – a higher figure than the total prison population of most other nations. Expensive bond judgments mean big business for private bail bonds providers, which back a defendant’s bond obligations to the court in exchange for a non-refundable payment. The US and the Philippines are the only countries in the world where private bond providers operate.
Jail is the only alternative for those who cannot pay the full bond or a fee to a private bonds provider. Many pre-trial defendants are held in detention for days and weeks at a time, with serious consequences for their jobs, homes, and family.
What can be done to make the pre-trial process in the United States more just? Join the conversation at 19:30 GMT to find out.
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