ABOUT

How Bail Bloc works

When you download the app, a small part of your computer's unused processing power is redirected toward mining a popular cryptocurrency called Monero, which is secure, private, and untraceable. At the end of every month, we exchange the Monero for US dollars and donate the earnings to the Bronx Freedom Fund.

100% of the currency your computer generates is used by the Bronx Freedom Fund to post bail for low-income people detained in New York effective immediately.

How bail works

Bail is an amount of money, typically set at arraignments, that courts require of the recently arrested in exchange for their immediate-term freedom. For those who can afford it, posting bail is a means of release, allowing people to avoid pretrial incarceration (the period between arrest and case disposition) which can last weeks, months, or even years.1

In practice, however, bail streamlines mass incarceration by preventing low-income, usually black and brown people from exercising their right to a fair trial. Prosecutors and judges work in concert to coerce low-income people to accept plea deals in exchange for their release. In New York, 90% of people who can’t pay bail end up pleading guilty.2 That means they forfeit their constitutional right to be tried before a jury, are never allowed to argue their case, and can never be found innocent. Put simply, these people are found guilty of poverty.

70% of people in American jails have not yet been convicted of any crime.3 If just a small percentage of those in pre-trial detention were released, and were able to argue their cases, the jails and courts that facilitate mass incarceration would cease to function.

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency isn’t real money, but it has real-world exchange value.

Just as the US Treasury prints money to infuse into the economy, cryptocurrency is generated "out of nowhere" through an arbitrary process. But where the US Treasury needs a minting machine, all miners need is computing power. Cryptocurrencies are generated through users running software to solve difficult computational problems, in a process known as "mining." When a problem is solved, the user is rewarded by a decentralized cryptocurrency network with units of that cryptocurrency. If enough users mine for the same cryptocurrency, it begins to have an exchange value.4

Our goal

With enough downloads over time, the compounding revenue generated from Bail Bloc has the potential to help secure the release of tens of thousands of low-income people from pre-trial incarceration, which would diminish the widespread function of cash bail to coerce guilty pleas, restoring the presumption of innocence and allowing people to wait for their day in court at liberty.

Questions?

We're addressing questions and concerns on an ongoing basis here at the New Inquiry.

Credits

Bail Bloc was created by Grayson Earle, Maya Binyam, Francis Tseng, JB Rubinovitz, Sam Lavigne, Rachel Rosenfelt, Madeleine Varner, Devin Kenny, and the Dark Inquiry collective.

Footnotes

  1. Pretrial incarceration has a devastating ripple effect on low-income communities, particularly low-income communities of color. One night in jail can cause people to lose jobs, their homes, their immigration status, and even custody of their children.
  2. Most of our figures were obtained through our partnership with the Bronx Freedom Fund. Reference this statistic in the Fund's recent announcement in The New York Times.
  3. According to the Prison Policy Initiative's 2017 report.
  4. For example, a user is able to purchase a baseball hat on the internet for 0.00122 Bitcoin (or 0.0877 Monero) from participating vendors, such as Overstock.com. That same hat is could also be bought for $5 USD. This means 0.00122 Bitcoins is worth $5 USD, and can be exchanged for that amount.