Who We Are

The Champaign County Bailout Coalition is a non-profit and volunteer-run alliance of local individuals and organizations committed to the abolition of money bail as the criterion for determining pretrial release in Champaign County. Unaffordable bail disregards the legal right of the presumption of innocence and condemns individuals to jail before trial. Moreover, decades of research show that the risks of an individual committing a punishable offense during pretrial release or missing their court dates are unaffected by payment of bond. We believe that justice will be done only when this criminal practice is replaced by mandatory non-monetary release for as many people as possible and support for those awaiting trial.

We believe that jail is the worst place that a person can be. Studies show that holding people in pretrial detention increases the likelihood of conviction, recidivism, and suicide, and leads to longer, harsher sentences. Any time behind bars can cause extreme personal, social, and financial hardship, including the loss of employment, housing, and child custody. CCBC’s efforts to liberate our neighbors from pretrial detention and to abolish the practice of money bail does not simply undermine these harmful effects but also contributes to a healthier and safer community through fostering direct community support and mutual aid.

Our Mission

To contribute to a safer and healthier community, CCBC helps to pay the bond of community members unable to afford it through grassroots fundraising. When an individual whose communities cannot afford to pay their bond contacts us for support, we put the funds donated by the larger Champaign County community toward their bail. They are then free to be with their communities in that moment of hardship and to arrange for their defense from a place of freedom. When the individuals’ trial has reached its conclusion, the donated money revolves back into our fund, and we put those recycled donations toward the bail amount of another person incarcerated in Champaign County jail. We also provide court date reminders to those individuals who we have bailed out.

Beyond our local work in Champaign County, CCBC also advocates for the elimination of money bail and pretrial incarceration at the state and national levels. Our local organizational network extends to the Cook County-based Coalition to End Money Bond, the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, and the National Bail Fund Network. We do not believe that community bond funds are solutions. Our work is a temporary intervention in the larger coordinated grassroots effort to decarcerate society.

Eligibility Priorities

No one deserves to be locked up because they can’t afford their bond. Champaign County Bailout Coalition would like to bail out everyone, but since our resources are limited, we may need to prioritize the release of people held in pretrial detention based on the urgency of their situation. The factors we consider are the individual’s

Inability to pay required bond, including a lack of financial support for bail from family or other community resources;

Special health needs, such as pregnancy, chronic medical conditions, or ongoing mental health treatment;

Vulnerability in jail due to race, religion, gender identity, gender expression, disability, immigration status, and/or age;

Likelihood of losing employment, housing, educational enrollment, and/or custodial rights due to incarceration;

Dependents or other family members who may be harmed by candidate’s detention.

These factors are flexible, so if you believe that Champaign County Bailout Coalition can provide assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Since we rely on grassroots fundraising, our capacity to bail people out varies based on our finances. If you would like to join the struggle to end money bail and pretrial incarceration in Illinois, please contact us at champaign.county.bail.out@gmail.com or (765) 231-5682.

Get Involved

The easiest way to get involved in the struggle to end money bail and pretrial incarceration in Illinois is to come to one of our open membership meetings. We meet on the first and third Thursday of every month, 6:00-7:30 PM, in the Independent Media Center (202 South Broadway, Urbana), in front of the mural. Children are welcome but unfortunately childcare can’t be provided. See our Facebook page for the link to the meeting.

CCBC is organized around decentralized and intersecting working-groups that collaboratively focus on individual projects between meetings. Depending on your interests, these working-groups are excellent points of entry into the movement for decarceration. Right now, our working-groups concentrate on bailouts, fundraising, communications, and post-bail support.

The nearest bus stop is across the street from the IMC, at Lincoln Square. Buses that serve this area during our meeting time are the 50 Green, 70 Grey, 110 Ruby, and 130 Silver. As our meeting occurs when the bus schedules go from day to evening, these evening lines will take you home.

There is a ramp leading to the IMC building at the south entrance. When the post office is open, there is also a lift. There is a bathroom on the first floor but other bathrooms can only be accessed by stairs.