MINNEAPOLIS — In response to today’s press conference introducing the Bail Abatement and Non-Profit Exclusion Act, the following is a statement from Mirella Ceja-Orozco and Elizer Darris, Co-Executive Directors of the Minnesota Freedom Fund:
“The Bail Abatement and Non-Profit Exclusion Act is a blatantly unconstitutional bill designed to score political points and turn the right to bail into a scapegoat for the legislature’s broader failures to address the root causes of crime. If passed, this legislation would further criminalize poverty and prevent thousands of primarily Black, brown, and Indigenous Minnesotans from accessing the right to bail guaranteed by both the U.S. and Minnesota constitutions.
We don’t need to guess the bill authors’ goals. The cartoonish, publicity-seeking bill title and its acronym “BANE” make perfectly clear their intentions to “abate” – that is, to limit or to end – the constitutional right to bail for people who cannot afford it; to exclude non-profits like MFF from organizing mutual aid and collective action in the community; and to maliciously and falsely cast people who haven’t been convicted of a crime — or in many cases even accused of one — as inherently violent and dangerous.
Our opponents are happy to allow wealthy individuals to pay their bail when accused of crimes. They’re also happy for people with fewer resources to pay bails using for-profit bail bondsmen, who prey on Black, brown, and Indigenous communities, violate clients’ rights, and keep 10% of the bail amount for themselves. That’s how you know this bill is not about public safety, but is instead a racist and bad faith attempt to criminalize poverty and derail efforts to level the playing field.
Let us be very clear: The Minnesota Freedom Fund will not be bullied by legislators into turning our backs on those who need our help — and who would otherwise be incarcerated indefinitely while those with more money go free even when they’ve been accused of the same crime.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund will use every tool at our disposal to fight this legislation — and to end pre-trial detention and the cash bail system that supports it.”