Massachusetts Bail Fund Seeks to End Pre-Trial Incarceration by Providing Resources for Court-Appointed Counsel and their Clients

Guest Post: Caroline Donovan (Foley Hoag), Sophia Hall (Lawyers for Civil Rights) and Susanna Jones (Foundation Medicine) are members of the BBA’s 2018-2019 Public Interest Leadership Program.

On Monday, January 28, 2019, Atara Rich-Shea, the Director of Operations for the Massachusetts Bail Fund, described current bail practices in Massachusetts to members of the Boston Bar Association’s Public Interest Leadership Program and invited engagement with and support for Massachusetts Bail Fund’s efforts to eradicate the system of pre-trial incarceration.

Empirical research evidences the myriad problems of pre-trial bail. For example, as compared to individuals who can post bail, individuals who cannot post bail and are thus held pre-trial are more likely to:

  • Be convicted
  • Receive harsher sentences
  • Plead guilty

To address these and other inequities, the Massachusetts Bail Fund covers bails of $500 or less. Beyond avoiding some of the unjust outcomes described above, the posting of bail allows individuals to work, attend school, and spend time with their families while they resolve their charges.

The Massachusetts Bail Fund can provide bail of $500 or less; if the bail amount is greater than $500, the Massachusetts Bail Fund can provide up to $500 if the individual can obtain the difference in funds from other sources. Court-appointed counsel whose clients would benefit from a referral to the Massachusetts Bail Fund should go here to review the requirements and make a request.