Staying Free: December 2021 NH Bail and Bond Newsletter
This past year was a transformative year for the NH Bail and Bond Fund, and we want to share our news with friends and donors like yourselves. In 2021, our impact grew significantly: In 2020, we bailed out 15 people, while this year so far we freed 41 people.
Thanks to the support of donors like you, one of the people we freed this year was S. He was gracious enough to share his story with our leader Paul Introcaso:
S. is a 29-year-old man who ran out of gas. The police stopped him while he was carrying a gas can to start his car. The police discovered that S. had warrants for bail jumping. He was immediately arrested and put in County jail. I bailed S. out about 10 days later. He shared that a terrifying thing for him happened when they slammed the jail doors after every lock down. S. had been shot 5 times when he was 23 and the jail door slamming triggered a PTSD response, like he was being shot again. S. also talked to me about his case: He thought it was a clear example of racial profiling and he wants to fight it. His attorney advised him that because he is Black, he should not bother and just accept a guilty plea due to the anticipated bias of the Court.
This year the NH Bail and Bond Fund grew in other ways. In January 2021, we held our first event, Getting Free and Staying Free, which featured music, local leaders and Cassandra Bensahih as our keynote speaker. Cassandra is the convener of the Massachusetts Coalition Against Solitary Confinement.
We also deepened our connections within the state, creating relationships with local organizations like BOSS (formerly Felon to Freeman), and national organizations, like the National Bail Fund Network.
Boosted by these connections, this year we expanded the scope of our work: while in the past we had exclusively bailed people out of the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, this year we have bailed people out of the Rockingham County Jail and the Merrimack County Jail. At the time of writing, we're figuring out how to bail out someone from the Carroll County Jail.
We're especially proud of our work this year because staying in a jail during a pandemic is dangerous. This fall there was an outbreak of COVID at the Valley Street Jail, and yet the criminal justice system still forced people into the cells.
COVID continues to impact bail in New Hampshire: the courts have a backlog of cases, which means that it takes longer than ever for bail money to be returned to our fund. We are only able to continue freeing people because of the support of donors like you. Thank you again!
This year we heard a number of stories about bail from the people we freed, and in those stories we kept on finding the need for a new system, one that actually helps people rather than just putting them in a cage, disconnected from their friends and family. As we think about 2022, we're planning on using our time to advocate for changes to the criminal justice system so that our work is no longer necessary. We remain committed to our tagline, "No one deserves to be in jail because they cannot afford bail or bond."
We'll close with a story about H., who was in jail for 10 months before a judge agreed that he could be granted bail:
Because he has an out of state address, H. was deemed a flight risk, so he was put back in jail while awaiting a new trial. Consequently, H. had been in jail over 10 months when his attorneys finally succeeded in convincing the judge to write a bail order for him. When I bailed H. out, amazingly he didn’t hold contempt for the legal system, the jail or anyone else. He said he wanted to move on with his life and try to do good for others. He said he would like the returned bail money to go to help bail out others.
Thanks for your support in 2021!
The NH Bail and Bond Fund Team: Rev. Emily Burr, Tristan Husby, Paul Introcaso, Livia Gershon, Jessica Price, Curt Smith, Edna White.