Culture Wars/Current Controversies

“It Changes Who Has the Power”: How Bail Funds Across the Country Are Responding to Protests

I am 100% in favor of many of the ideas being pushed by criminal justice “reformers” such as the abolition of cash bail, repealing mandatory minimum sentencing, civilian review boards, body cameras, police accountability, de-escalation training, etc. But let’s not pretend these are “radical” ideas or even particular far-reaching “reformist” proposals. For example, where is the “Defund the FBI” movement?

The Ringer

Rahim Buford knows what a night in a cage feels like. He can count about 9,490 of them in his lifetime. The 49-year-old manager of the Nashville Community Bail Fund grew up in a family of 19 children in Nashville. There were times when he didn’t have enough food to eat, and his classmates mocked the clothes he wore to school. His family circumstances drove him to trouble. At 18, he shot a gun at the floor of a store he was robbing, and the bullet ricocheted into an employee, killing them. Buford spent the next 26 years of his life between seven different Tennessee prisons, contemplating how he ended up there.

“I educated myself, I learned about the system, and I realized that the choices that I made were not just because I was a bad person,” Buford told me. “I learned about the history of the country I live in and then it all made sense.”


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