Support those whose voices are suppressed

Challenging Pretrial Detention

Every night, there are 450,000 human beings awaiting trial in U.S. jail cells solely because they cannot make a payment.  We challenge wealth-based detention and promote anti-carceral alternatives to human caging that are less restrictive, more effective, and grounded in holistic community engagement and empowerment.  Our work has freed tens of thousands of people from jail cells, helped to elevate the issue of money bail into the popular consciousness, and is setting precedent that will forever change the bail-setting process in the United States


Los Angeles Bail Schedule

On November 14, 2022, six people in jail and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) filed a lawsuit challenging the use of money bail to detain people from arrest to arraignment, their first court date which is typically 2-5 days after arrest. Arrested people do not receive a lawyer or see a judge until they get to court. The case is being litigated by attorneys from Civil Rights Corps, Public Justice’s Debtors’ Prison Project, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP, and Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes, LLP.

Orleans Parish, LA: Bail

Civil Rights Corps won a landmark constitutional challenge to the money bail system in New Orleans. The case transformed how pretrial release is determined in New Orleans and struck down a state law in which judges took a cut of any money bail posted.

Alamance County, NC: Bail

We're challenging Alamance County, NC's unjust money bail system that keeps poor people trapped in jail while letting others charged with the same offense pay for their release.

Calhoun County, GA: Bail

We are litigating a landmark challenge to the unconstitutional money bail system in Calhoun, Georgia. Our client, Maurice Walker, was jailed for six days solely because he could not pay money bail after arrest for being a pedestrian under the influence.

Dallas County, TX: Bail

In January 2018, Civil Rights Corps sued Dallas County, challenging their policy of detaining impoverished individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies for days and weeks without ever seeing a judge.

Randolph County, AL: Bail

In May 2017, Civil Rights Corps filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional money bail system in Randolph County, Alabama.

Atlanta, GA: Bail Policy

In February 2018, the Atlanta City Council voted to end wealth-based detention in Atlanta's Municipal Court as a result of a campaign we led in partnership with Southern Center for Human Rights and Southerners on New Ground.

Cullman County, AL: Bail

In August 2017, Civil Rights Corps moved to intervene in a federal class action lawsuit against officials in Cullman County, Alabama who operate an unconstitutional bail system.

Tulsa County, OK: Bail

In June 2018, we filed a lawsuit challenging Tulsa County’s unconstitutional wealth-based pretrial detention system. Tulsa County uses a money bail schedule to determine conditions of release for almost every person arrested.

Lafayette Parish, LA: Bail

In June 2017, Civil Rights Corps filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional money bail system in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.  Our client, Edward Little, lives on a farm with his family in Carencro, Louisiana.

California: State-wide Bail

In January 2018, the California Court of Appeal granted a writ of habeas corpus to our client, 63-year-old Kenneth Humphrey and, in the process, wrote a thorough opinion that revolutionizes bail setting in California.rn

Hamblen County, TN: Bail

We're challenging the discriminatory money bail system in Hamblen County, TN. This case seeks to hold accountable the actors who are making these unconstitutional decisions and by doing so, begin addressing the county's jail crisis in the right way — by reducing the Hamblen County Jail population and ending assembly line wealth-based detention.

Harris County, TX: Bail

Our challenge to the money bail system in Harris County is the seminal challenge to the assembly line wealth-based detention that pervades local American courts. 

Houston, TX: Probable Cause

We filed two class-action lawsuits against the City of Houston and Harris County, Texas, for illegally detaining thousands of people every year for extended time periods after arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Nevada: State-wide Bail

Working closely with the Clark County Public Defender’s Office, Civil Rights Corps is challenging Nevada’s use of money bail without consideration of a person’s ability to pay. nnn

Ending the Criminalization of Poverty

Our criminal legal system is an assembly line that normalizes modern debtors’ prisons and that uses the mass processing of criminal cases to generate revenue on the backs of the poorest people in our society.  We fight the systemic criminalization of poverty in all of its forms.


Kerry Lee Thomas v. Robert Johnson, Eric M. Bruss, Wayne Schultz, and The estate of Robert Johnson


PG County Class Action Lawsuit


Jennings County, MO: Debtor's Prison

Civil Rights Corps, in partnership with ArchCity Defenders and the Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics, reached a landmark settlement for impoverished people who were illegally jailed in Jennings, Missouri. 

Giles County, TN: Private Probation

This case challenges the private probation companies in Giles County that traps the poorest people in a cycle of probation violation, extension of probation violation, extension of supervision, extra fees, and repeated jailing.

Rutherford County, TN: Private Probation

We recently announced a landmark settlement in a first-of-its-kind class action case in federal court against Rutherford County and PCC, Inc., a private probation company that made millions of dollars by exploiting the poorest people in Rutherford County.  

Ferguson, MO: Debtors' Prisons

Civil Rights Corps filed a landmark challenge to the City of Ferguson’s conversion of its legal system into a mechanism of revenue generation, by charging poor arrestees astronomical fees and jailing them for their inability to pay.

Tennessee: State-wide Driver's License Suspensions

These two cases challenge the Tennessee laws that suspend driver's licenses for nonpayment of traffic debt and revoke them for nonpayment of court debt. These suspensions have prevented poor families from accessing the necessities of life. nn

Oklahoma: State-wide Debtor's Prison

This case challenges the unconstitutional racketeering enterprise that facilitates the transfer of millions of dollars in wealth from the poorest people in Oklahoma to a private debt-collection company, the police, and judges.

New Orleans, LA: Debtors' Prison

In Louisiana, the judges who collect fines and fees from poor defendants depend on that money to fund their own budgets. We filed suit in against the New Orleans for jailing thousands of people each year who can't pay these fines and fees.

Holding Prosecutors, Judges, and Police Accountable

Our work challenges pervasive abuses of power by criminal prosecutors, judges, police, and other system actors. We create accountability for officials who have historically acted with impunity and we change entrenched narratives about the purposes and effects of the punishment bureaucracy. This portfolio replicates what Civil Rights Corps has done with modern debtors’ prisons and the money bail system: we use rigorous, innovative litigation; advocacy centered on directly impacted communities; and storytelling to change the legal discourse and cultural narrative around long-settled and entrenched norms that created and that perpetuate our country’s era of mass human caging.


Alberto Ramos v. Scott Erwin, Jennifer Gilbreath, Hallie Smith, Fredrick Morrison and Gino Dago


Pasadena, TX: Police Misconduct

Civil Rights Corps sued three police officers from Pasadena, TX, for wrongfully arresting a man and lying to Court officials to cover it up. 

Maricopa County, AZ: Diversion

We challenge a diversion program that charges hundreds of dollars in fees to low-level marijuana offenders, trapping poor people in cycles of debt.

New Orleans, LA: Misconduct

The Prosecutor Project's initiating piece of litigation, this lawsuit seeks to end the unconstitutional deception and jailing of crime victims and witnesses by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office.

District of Columbia: Search Warrants

Officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, DC routinely employ false statements and omissions to obtain search warrants that are plainly unsupported by probable cause. MPD officers then execute those warrants using excessive force, physically assaulting people, damaging their property, and endangering lives. This is an egregious constitutional violation so we challenged the systemic misconduct and recklessness of the MPD in obtaining and executing search warrants.