In the last 10 years, a small charity called the Bronx Freedom Fund has donated bail money to thousands of poor New Yorkers charged with crimes, freeing them from jail and helping them avoid the dispiriting delays of backlogged local courts as they wait to go on trial.
Now, after a decade in operation, the founder of the Freedom Fund is set to announce a new and unprecedented effort: the nation’s first fund designed to post bail for more than 150,000 indigent defendants being jailed across the country.
Known as the Bail Project, the undertaking is scheduled to open offices in St. Louis and Tulsa, Okla., in January and spread to more than three dozen cities in the next five years, according to Robin Steinberg, the former director of the free legal clinic Bronx Defenders, who ran the fund in the Bronx and will now oversee the national initiative.
“We are hoping to …