Making Freedom Free: Bail and Economic Mobility in the South

Economic Opportunity Challenge
The Bail Project, Inc.

By providing free bail assistance and wraparound services to thousands of low-income people throughout the South, The Bail Project can prevent tremendous harm and catalyze economic opportunity.

Last Updated: January 2023
Competition Participation
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Economic Opportunity Challenge
Criminal justice
Current Work Location(s):
  • Georgia, United States
  • Kentucky, United States
  • Mississippi, United States
  • North Carolina, United States
  • South Carolina, United States
  • Alabama, United States
  • Florida, United States
Priority Population(s):
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Incarcerated people
  • Detainees
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • 1. No poverty
  • 10. Reduced inequalities
  • 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

Executive Summary

Pretrial incarceration destabilizes those who are already most marginalized: it turns housing instability into homelessness, minimum wage into unemployment, and accusations into convictions. Tonight, nearly half a million Americans, disproportionately people of color, will sleep in jail cells across the U.S. because they cannot afford the cost of their freedom. Legally presumed innocent but trapped behind bars, many will trade guilty pleas in exchange for their liberty, taking criminal records that will follow them into the job market and beyond. The Bail Project pays bail for those who can’t afford it, returning them to their families, jobs, and communities as they fight their cases. We then connect them to employment services and other resources in the community, and we advocate for systemic changes to our pretrial system. We have secured freedom for more than 20,000 people. We currently operate in 30 jurisdictions across the country, and we aim to expand our reach in the South.

Organization Details
Lead Organization

The Bail Project, Inc.

Organization Headquarters
California, United States
Organization ID
Number of Full-time Employees
26 to 50
Annual Operating Budget
$10.1 to 25 Million

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity

Organizations may provide budget and employee data based on this proposal or the organization as a whole. For more information on this proposal or organization, please email us.


The Bail Project launched nationally in January 2018. We now have 30 locations. Our team of Bail Disruptors has freed over 20,000 people while providing them with court reminders, transportation assistance, and referrals to social services as needed using our model of Community Release with Support. We have prevented the harm of more than 100,000 days in jail for our clients through these efforts—stopping the disruption incarceration brings to families, communities, and the labor market.

Nationally, our clients have maintained a 92% court appearance rate, and a staggering 32% of The Bail Project’s clients have all their cases dismissed. Overall, of our clients whose cases have closed, 92% are not required to spend any additional time in jail. Our results provide further evidence that we should end cash bail to create a more just, equitable, and humane pretrial system. To learn more about our policy vision, visit

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