Support those whose voices are suppressed

Challenging the Money Bail System

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

Cases

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.


Orleans Parish, LA: Bail

In 2017, Civil Rights Corps filed a landmark federal class action lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional money bail system in New Orleans.  Each of our clients was jailed because she could not afford to pay a money bond after her arrest.


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.


Texas: Indigent Defense in the Prison System

Civil Rights Corps is supporting legislation that would create an independent office to provide legal services to poor people in the Texas prison system who are charged with crimes.


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.


Cook County, IL: Bail

We filed a lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional money bail system in Cook County, Illinois. As a result of this litigation, there are, on average, 1500 fewer people in the Cook County Jail each night.


Ohio: State-wide Bail Policy

Civil Rights Corps is supporting partners in Ohio to pursue bail reform, starting with a court rule that could change how Ohio sets bail.


St. Louis, MO: Bail

In January 2019, Civil Rights Corps joined a lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional money bail system in St. Louis, Missouri. This lawsuit was filed in partnership with ArchCity Defenders, the Advancement Project, and the Georgetown Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP).


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. 


Arizona State-wide: Bail

Every night in this country, hundreds of thousands of people languish in jail for that very reason, because they cannot pay money bail. Along with partners around the country, we have challenged this unconstitutional system through federal lawsuits


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.


Oregon: State-wide Bail

In partnership with the Metropolitan Public Defenders in Portland, Oregon, Civil Rights Corps is challenging Oregon’s longstanding practices of jailing people charged with misdemeanors prior to trial and jailing people charged with other crimes without constitutionally required due process.


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


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


Policy

Bail Policy Package
Each night, more than 6 in 10 individuals sitting in local jails are presumptively innocent. They are fathers, mothers, children and loved ones who have not been convicted, but are simply awaiting their day in court. And, in too many cases, they are there simply...

Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond: A New Paradigm for Public Safety
With local, state, and federal elections approaching, candidates are presenting bold ideas regarding a wide variety of issues—promising structural change to cater to their progressive base. Yet, no one candidate has proposed real, visionary thinking regarding how we approach justice in America. It’s time to...

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.

Cases

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.


Policy

Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond: A New Paradigm for Public Safety
With local, state, and federal elections approaching, candidates are presenting bold ideas regarding a wide variety of issues—promising structural change to cater to their progressive base. Yet, no one candidate has proposed real, visionary thinking regarding how we approach justice in America. It’s time to...

Debt-Based Driver's License Suspension Policy Package
Millions of people have had their driver’s licenses suspended, revoked, or otherwise restricted not because they are a risk to public safety, but simply because they could not pay a debt. At Civil Rights Corps, we have developed a set of policy resources that can...

COVID-19 and the criminal system
The spread of COVID-19 is a public health emergency that is especially urgent for the 2.3 million human beings caged in U.S. jails and prisons. These institutions are already dangerous and unhealthy places, even outside of a global pandemic, with overcrowding, deplorable conditions, and inadequate...

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.

Cases

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.


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.


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.


Policy

COVID-19 and the criminal system
The spread of COVID-19 is a public health emergency that is especially urgent for the 2.3 million human beings caged in U.S. jails and prisons. These institutions are already dangerous and unhealthy places, even outside of a global pandemic, with overcrowding, deplorable conditions, and inadequate...

Smart Practices for Diversion Programs
While diversion programs have the potential to further rehabilitative and de-carceral goals, there are significant risks to these programs. At the same time, some jurisdictions have adopted diversion programs that are providing free services to community members who need assistance. These programs coordinate diverse stakeholders,...

Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond: A New Paradigm for Public Safety
With local, state, and federal elections approaching, candidates are presenting bold ideas regarding a wide variety of issues—promising structural change to cater to their progressive base. Yet, no one candidate has proposed real, visionary thinking regarding how we approach justice in America. It’s time to...

Supporting Black Lives
Black people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, police brutality, and and many other injustices of the system. Organizations across the country, Civil Rights Corps included have been diligently working to support, advocate, and change the inequalities black communities face. Below, you will find guidance...

Strengthening Communities Without Cages

True safety is rooted not in policing and criminalization, but in health, housing, education, and meeting communities’ underlying needs. Civil Rights Corps works to develop, advance, and create the conditions for policies that move us toward this non-carceral, non-punitive approach to public safety. 

Policy

Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond: A New Paradigm for Public Safety
With local, state, and federal elections approaching, candidates are presenting bold ideas regarding a wide variety of issues—promising structural change to cater to their progressive base. Yet, no one candidate has proposed real, visionary thinking regarding how we approach justice in America. It’s time to...