PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of volunteers is spending the days before Christmas raising money for a fund that’ll help those caught in the throws of the criminal justice system come home for the holidays.
“The goal is bail out as many people as we can, based on the amount of money that we raise,” says Rueben Jones, who runs Frontline Dads, Inc., which is part of the 215 Coalition.
The group started the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund last May after they raised $60,000 in a week. They used the money to bailout 13 moms for Mother’s Day. Now, they’re getting more request for bailouts and want to use the “giving season” to raise money to for a holiday bailout.
“Right now, I think we raised about 10, I think we want to get to about 50,” says Jones. “We have more requests for help than the resources we have.”
Jones says families of jailed individuals can call the coalition, which will use volunteers to interview the bailee in prison, as well as at least two supporters. If it’s determined the individuals have the support they need to get on with their lives safely, the group will use the bail fund to bail the person out.
They’ve also used resources to help the individual find other services. This holiday, they’ve used the fund to bailout three people thus far, including a man who is the sole caretaker for his elderly mother, but didn’t have $3,000 for his $30,000 bail fee.
“He did lose his job, he didn’t have a criminal record or any of those things, but because he sat in jail for three months those are the collateral damage,” says Jones. “I spoke to his mother — she is in a wheelchair and was really distraught.”
Jones say their goal is to get as many people home safely to be with their family for the holiday season. Volunteers are raising money outside of City Hall over the next few days. Click here to donate.