The Bail Project

Combat mass incarceration by transforming the pretrial system in the US and creating a national norm where decision makers opt for community release with support instead of unaffordable cash bail.

The Scale of the Problem

Each year, an estimated 2.5 million legally presumed innocent people sit in jail while awaiting trial because they cannot afford their cash bail. On average, these individuals are age 35 or younger with salaries under $15,000, the majority have children under 18, and they are disproportionately from communities of color. Pretrial detention accounts for all jail growth in the US in the past 20 years, costs society $20 billion annually, and exposes detained individuals to violence and may jeopardize their mental and physical health, housing, employment, access to public benefits, and custody of their children. These risks compound the pressure they face to plead guilty in exchange for release, resulting in a criminal record that has long-term consequences.


greater likelihood of guilty plea by individuals held in jail before trial


of the US pretrial population is made up of Black and Latino/a individuals, increasing to 90% in some jurisdictions


of incarcerated women are in pretrial detention, and women make up the fast-growing incarcerated population in America

A Promising Solution

The Bail Project works with public defender offices and local nonprofits to identify people in pretrial detention who cannot afford their cash bail. Their community-based teams of client advocates, or “Bail Disruptors,” interview clients, determine eligibility based on a person’s history of court appearances and bail amount, and provide pretrial support after release in the form of court notifications, referrals to voluntary social services, and transportation assistance. Once each case is complete, bail money returns to the fund so it can be used to help pay bail for others. Through these efforts, The Bail Project seeks to steer entire jurisdictions away from cash bail and towards a more just and equitable system where bailouts are no longer needed.


of clients attend all court hearings, 25% percent higher than The Bronx average


of cases close without a criminal conviction


of clients received a jail sentence

Blue Meridian's Investment

Our investment supports The Bail Project’s ambitious five-year Scaling Plan, during which they will provide immediate relief on an unprecedented scale by directly serving more than 100,000 low-income individuals in 25 sites across the US – while demonstrating the effectiveness of its model and laying the groundwork for a new normal in the pretrial system so that bailouts are no longer needed.

$37.5M invested over five years

Grow from 11 to 25 sites across the nation

Cumulatively serve more than 100,000 clients across all sites

Why We Are Excited About The Bail Project

Every organization in our investment portfolio is ready to embark on significant scaling and displays a multitude of strengths. Here are some highlights of the tremendous potential we saw in The Bail Project's scaling strategy that motivated us to invest:

Momentum for Bail Reform

The desire for bail reform is increasing, illustrated by an increasing number of important state and local reform efforts across the country. While no single strategy can reform the entire pretrial system, we are confident The Bail Project is well positioned to capitalize on growing public awareness and demand for reform, both on its own and as a complement to other critical efforts in the field.

As a large-scale, national intervention, The Bail Project offers a compelling, actionable way to solve the problem of unaffordable cash bail for thousands of low-income people immediately, while their work to demonstrate that community release with support is the most viable and cost-effective alternative to unaffordable cash bail can help advance other efforts in the field. By establishing strong proof points for its model in diverse jurisdictions across the country, The Bail Project can influence decision makers to drive systemic change away from unaffordable cash bail, risk assessments and electronic monitoring, and toward investment in voluntary supports and community-based solutions that improve the lives of millions of people each year.

Exemplary Leadership

The Bail Project was founded in 2017 by Robin Steinberg, a visionary leader in the criminal justice field whose work as public defender in New York City inspired her passion for bail reform. Under her leadership, The Bail Project scaled to 30 locations across the country with over 26,000 individuals bailed out of prison.

Today, The Bail Project is led by David Gaspar. Gaspar’s personal experience with cash bail and incarceration and his expertise in all aspects of criminal justice reform makes him uniquely positioned to lead the organization through its next phase of growth.

A Strong Foundation for Success

The Bail Project builds upon long-running work in the Bronx. The Bronx Freedom Fund, co-founded by The Bail Project leadership, has established strong, measurable results, and was critical to the success of The Bail Project’s early scaling efforts. Since 2015, the Bronx Freedom Fund has achieved a 96% court appearance rate, 25% higher than the Bronx average. While 92% of non-felony defendants detained before trial in New York City are convicted—primarily because of guilty pleas—only about 10% of Bronx Freedom Fund clients have been convicted. Instead, the majority of their cases have been dismissed, or reduced to violations that carry no criminal record. We estimate that The Bail Project has averted ~100,000 jail-days through its work in the Bronx, and based on this strong track record, they are currently expanding to areas of diverse geographical, demographic and political representation. We firmly believe The Bail Project is poised to make a national, lasting impact on bail reform and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the country.

Scaling The Bail Project Nationally

Founder Robin Steinberg describes the Bail Project’s vision for impact at scale and their partnership with Blue Meridian.

Scaling The Bail Project Nationally

About The Bail Project

The Bail Project is the first national revolving bail fund in the US. Its passionate team of Bail Disruptors works on a local level to identify low-income individuals who cannot afford to pay bail. The Bail Project secures their release, enabling them to return home to their families and communities while awaiting their court dates. Local Bail Disruptors support clients and guide them through the legal process to ensure they appear in court. After the client appears, bail is repaid, allowing The Bail Project to recycle funds to help another person in need. In addition to providing immediate relief on an unprecedented scale, The Bail Project aims to drive a longer-term systemic shift away from both bail and other burdensome alternatives, revolutionizing the pretrial system.

Learn more about The Bail Project

David Gaspar

Chief Executive Officer

David Gaspar is the Chief Executive Officer of The Bail Project. Gaspar first joined The Bail Project as a Bail Disruptor shortly after the organization’s launch and quickly rose through the ranks to become site manager, Regional Director, and eventually National Director of Operations. A formerly incarcerated individual directly affected by the cash bail system, Gaspar earned his GED and bachelor’s degree and studied law while in prison, won his appeal, and was released 11 years early.

Other Nationwide Solutions Investments