Central Florida prosecutors, defenders team up with Morgan & Morgan to create Community Bail Fund

Nonprofit will help pay bond for non-violent offenders who cannot afford bail

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Attorneys, public defenders and the Orange-Osceola State Attorney plan to announce a nonprofit bail program Thursday that will provide bail assistance for low-income individuals charged with non-violent crimes.

According to the Orlando law firm Morgan & Morgan, the Community Bail Fund will be a public-private partnership between the State Attorney’s Office, the public defender’s office and the personal injury law firm. The goal of the Community Bail Fund is to end the widespread incarceration of people in jail held before trial because they cannot afford bail, the law firm said in a news release.

According to the Justice Policy Institute, a national nonprofit devoted to criminal justice reform, the use of money bail is among the primary causes of a growing population behind bars.

Of the 731,000 incarcerated people in jails across the U.S., more than 76% of the population in local jails have not been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial because they are unable to make bail, according to 2019 data from the Prison Policy Initiative.

The ability pay bail is neither an indicator of a person’s guilt or innocence but the focus on money means that those who are unable to pay bail remain in jail, according to the Justice Policy Institute.

The main reason for the large number of incarcerations in the U.S. is due to “technical violations” such as probation and parole violations, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

The median bail for a felony charge is $10,000 which adds up to about 8 months’ income for the prisoners most directly affected by the inability to pay bail, according to Prison Policy data.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala, Public Defender Bob Wesley and Matt and Dan Morgan will reveal more details about the Community Bail Fund on Thursday morning at the Orange County Courthouse.

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