About the Bail Tool

The idea for the Cancel My Bail Debt Tool began at a Debt Free Justice California Coalition meeting in 2018. There, Debt Collective co-founders Hannah Appel and Laura Hanna met Danica Rodarmel, a visionary attorney dedicating her life’s work to transforming the criminal legal system and passionate about debt abolition. Danica founded the Bail Clinic at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she and other attorneys assisted individuals with bail bond debts to fight the illegal practices of bail bonds companies in California.

Danica and the Debt Collective team began collaborating on household and bail bonds debt clinics with the Youth Justice Coalition and Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. But in terms of building power, there were limitations to the individualized clinic model. Danica, Justice Catalyst Legal Fellow Mackenzie Halter, and the Debt Collective team including Carceral Debt organizer Manny Galindo set to work creating an easy to use online tool that would allow cosigners on bail bonds contracts dispute their debts. This tool is the product of their ingenuity, legal creativity, and vision of a world where cash bail does not exist.

Lifting up the work of Essie Justice Group, Silicon Valley De-Bug, the Sister Warrior Freedom Coalition, and with the support of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, among so many others, the Debt Collective’s tool will put money back in the pockets of poor people while also building power to challenge and reimagine the exploitative, racist systems in which we live. Like all forms of household debt, bail debt disproportionately affects poor Black and brown families, and women in those families in particular. Thus, the coalition campaigns we develop with this tool will center the power of those communities to transform our world.

About the Debt Collective

Debt Collective is a membership-based union for debtors and our allies. Our current economic system forces us into debt–student debt for an education; a mortgage or rent for housing; debts for utility bills or phone bills, medical care or even incarceration. No one should have to go into debt to meet their basic needs! These debts are illegitimate and the system needs to change, and we are united to win that change. How? Through the power of our union.

Our debtors’ union is inspired by labor unions. Individually, workers are at the mercy of their bosses. But when workers come together, with their collective power they can win better wages, benefits, and working conditions. It’s the same with debtors. As individual debtors, we are at the mercy of our creditors – for our housing, medical care, education, utilities, incarceration, and more. But together we can turn our individual debts into collective power. We can use that power not only to cancel debts, but also to change how we finance our basic needs in the first place. We fight for social housing, healthcare, education for all, and the abolition of the Prison Industrial Complex.