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Response To Sheriff Dave Mahoney’s Hit Piece Press Release About Us

a picture of sheriff Dave Mahoney's bust with a red circle with x through him and the word racist underneath his face

On Monday July 6, 2020, Dane County sheriff, Dave Mahoney, put out a press release naming our organization and some folks that we had paid bail for and sent it to multiple news outlets around the state. The press release was filled with lies and misrepresentations and sought to paint us, and the folks we helped free, in a bad light and throw shade on the important organizing work that we do. This is our response.

Free The 350 Bail Fund is committed to creating a world free of prisons and policing. When we say #FreeThemAll, we mean FREE THEM ALL. We free people from the Dane County Jail – prioritizing Black people, especially Black women, queer folks, youth, and caregivers – due to the vast racial disparities present in the Dane County jail, and the over-policing of Black people in our county. We do this because we believe that jail is an inhumane and unjust intervention and it makes us less safe as a community and as a society.

Nobody should be in jail, especially simply because they don’t have the money to pay court-ordered bail. The bail system was designed by our current criminal legal system – Free The 350 Bail Fund does not write the rules, but we use them to free people who judges and the sheriff detain while awaiting trial. The criminal legal system claims to presume innocence, and yet it cages people before they have been found guilty of any crime, sometimes for a year or more! Instead of presuming innocence, Sheriff Mahoney speaks about people awaiting trial as if they had already been convicted of crimes they are only charged with!

Furthermore, in the midst of a global pandemic, Free The 350 Bail Fund serves our community’s public health interests by helping reduce the number of people in jail. We know jails, prisons and detention centers are breeding grounds for COVID-19. The sheriff has failed to free people despite knowing the harm that jailing people during a pandemic causes. The sheriff has also used solitary confinement, deemed to be torture by the United Nations, to segregate people infected with COVID-19, instead of freeing them to hospitals or their homes. By doing so, the sheriff is putting our entire community at risk, especially our Black and Brown community members who are at higher risk of suffering complications from COVID-19 because of these very disparities. Jail should not be a death sentence! 

Madison Police, Counterinsurgency and Racist Contradictions

Kelsey Nelson’s Bail Was Set At $6,000

We are glad to have been able to pay Mr. Nelson’s bail of $6,000 and get him free. He has not been charged of a crime yet and it is a violation of his constitutional rights for him to be in jail simply because he can’t afford to pay the bail.

The situation in the Dane county jail that has arose over the last week has starkly exposed the racist contradictions of the criminal justice system and the police. While Mr. Nelson, a Black man, had to wait two days from the time he was arrested and had his bail set at $6,000, there was a White man, Brendan O’Neil, who on early Saturday morning, June 20, hit and dragged a Black woman, Alize Carter, while she was exercising her right to protest against racist police violence, and immediately fled from the scene. Brendan O’Neil was clearly exhibiting behavior of a white supremacist wishing to maintain the status quo of this racist society when he choose to violently drive through the crowd of protestors, who were mostly Black folks.

Brendan O’neil was caught and arrested the following Thursday and charged with hit and run with intention of death and/or causing great bodily harm. Then a telling thing occurred that has exposed the underlying objectives of the racist criminal injustice and policing system in Dane County, Brendan O’neil was charged on a misdemeanor crime schedule, despite his crime clearly deserving multiple felonies and probably a hate crime investigation and prosecution. This allowed him to have bail set for his release without having to attend initial appearance court, a process which requires the person being charged to wait at least a day in jail before being able to appear in court, often times a few days. On top of that, his bail was set at $350 for an act that many would agree amounts to an act of deadly white supremacist terrorism. Mr Nelson was charged with destruction of property and burglary, two alleged crimes that are targeted at inanimate objects, the allegations against him don’t involve him allegedly having hurt anyone. Brendan O’Neil intentionally drove through a crowd of mostly Black protestors and hit a Black woman with his truck, dragging her with it, resulting in her having to go to the hospital with myriad bodily injuries and broken bones, yet Brendan O’Neil was released within a couple hours of being booked and had to pay 1/17th of the bail that Mr Nelson had to pay.

This is clear signaling from the police, the court and the Sherriff’s department that they value private property more than they do Black Lives. It also indicates a circling of the wagon from the racist incarceration and policing systems in Dane county around Whiteness’ right to perform violence on Black people. In addition it signals that the government will fight tooth and nail to resist any changes to its racist and violent modes of operating and the antiBlack status quo. These events are extremely revealing and point to the need for increased grassroots resistance to the racist policing and incarceration system in Dane County and across the country. Let’s not let the system of white supremacist patriarchal capitalism get away with this bullshit racist maneuvering. Let’s show white supremacy and its status quo system that we will RISE UP and dismantle it by any means necessary in order to rid our society of these racist contradictions and anti-Blackness.

To Sheriff Mahoney, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, Dane County Circuit Court Judges and Dane County Supervisors Regarding COVID-19 and the Dane County Jail: We Demand You Protect Public Health by Releasing People from Jail. 

Across the world, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic increases with each passing day. The highly contagious respiratory illness has been deadly for many, especially the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, and people who are excluded from access to quality healthcare, including Black and brown peoples. and people experiencing poverty. In Wisconsin, Black people are 6.5 times more likely than white people do die from COVID-19. Across the United States, elected and appointed public officials are taking unprecedented steps​ to protect the most vulnerable people in their communities and contain the spread of the virus.

People incarcerated in jail are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and their protection warrants special emergency action. Jails are known to quickly spread contagious diseases. Incarcerated people have an inherently limited ability to fight the spread of infectious disease since they are confined in close quarters and unable to avoid contact with people who may have been exposed. Responses such as lock downs, placing people in solitary confinement andand ineffective responses to outbreaks. Importantly, we know that solitary confinement further endangers people, is considered a form of psychological torture​ and has been banned by the UN​​. 

The only acceptable response to the threat of COVID-19 is to release people from jail. Today there are more than 425 people incarcerated in the Dane County Jail​. Black people are about 55% of all people incarcerated in the jail, despite being only about 5% of people residing in Dane County. Their ongoing incarceration is an unacceptable risk to every incarcerated person as well as public health.

Jails have extremely high turnover rates. Many people are released and admitted every day, and dozens of employees travel in and out of the Dane County Jail each week. It is not a matter of if coronavirus and COVID-19 will cause deaths in the Dane County Jail and the surrounding community, but when. Probably it already has, as there have already been 22 deaths from it in Dane County so far​ and there has not been sufficient contact tracing to determine where the virus originated. 21 incarcerated people and and 6 deputies who work at the jail have tested positive​ as of April 21 and the current number is sure to be higher since the National Guard tested incarcerated people on April 25th. 212 people have died in prisons across the country so far​, and 16,865 incarcerated people in prisons as well as 5,240 corrections staff have tested positive. People incarcerated in jails have also been dying: Six incarcerated people in Cook County Jail (Chicago) and one staff member have died​; at Rikers Island (New York City), eight corrections employees​ and at least two incarcerated people​ have died; two people  in Riverside County Jail​ (California) and one person in Bexar County Jail​ (San Antonio, Texas) have also died. According to the ACLU, 100,000 additional people will die if elected and appointed public officials don’t release people from jails and prisons immediately​. 

We demand that elected and appointed public officials take the following steps to protect the health of all Dane County residents, including people incarcerated in the Dane County Jail:

  • Dane County judges should immediately release anyone incarcerated in the Dane County Jail only because of  unaffordable money bail. If a judge has ordered a person incarcerated due to money bail, it means the judge has determined the person is cleared for release pretrial. Their ongoing incarceration due solely to an inability to pay money bail is deeply unfair and unethical, if not outright illegal and unconstitutional, especially during this pandemic.
  • Police and law enforcement agencies should stop arresting people, and the Sheriff’s Office should stop admitting people to the Dane County Jail. The goal should be preventing admission to the jail of as many people as possible.
  • Dane County elected officials, including the District Attorney, the Sheriff, and judges, should immediately use their powers to release people over the age of 50, people with compromised immune systems, and Black people from the Dane County Jail. Research has shown that these people are at the highest risk for contracting and experiencing the most serious effects of COVID-19. As stated earlier, Black people in Wisconsin are 6.5 times more likely than white people to die from COVID.
  • If courts remain open, judges should waive appearance at non-essential criminal court dates to avoid unnecessary travel and social contact. All in-person pretrial check-ins or other mandated appearances (such as drug testing) should also be waived.
  • Cancellation of court dates should not delay anyone’s release from the Dane County Jail. Given that 70% of people released from the Dane County Jail return directly to the community, any failure to resolve court cases at the same pace will increase the number of people in jail and thus the threat to their individual health and public health.
  • Stop “turnarounds,” the process by which someone sentenced to time served travels from the Dane County Jail to a Wisconsin Department of Corrections facility to dress in and dress out on the same day. People sentenced to time served should be released directly from the Dane County Jail.
  • The Dane County Board of Supervisors, and the Sheriff’s Office must ensure generous funding and unfettered access to Hhealth care access for anyone remaining incarcerated in the Dane County Jail must be liberally provided and unfettered. Anyone remaining in the jail who has tested positive for COVID-19 must be transferred to a hospital for immediate treatment.
  • The Sheriff’s Office must expand access to phone calls and video “visitation” for all incarcerated people immediately. This access should be provided free of charge.
  • The right to vote must be protected for anyone who remains incarcerated.
  • The Sheriff’s Office and the Dane County Board of Supervisors must provide access and funding for personal hygiene, cleaning, and sanitation supplies free of charge to anyone that remains incarcerated.  The Sheriff’s oOffice and County Board must also provide people in the jail with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure that the jail’s its staff are consistently using PPE. Hand sanitizer and other essential preventative products must be permitted inside the jail, available for free to all incarcerated people, and should not be considered “contraband.”

HIP HOP DUO, REBEL DIAZ, TO PERFORM AT FREE THE 350 BAIL FUND’S ONLINE CONCERT TO FREE THEM ALL FROM DANE COUNTY JAIL

A study by the ACLU has found that 100,000 people will die beyond the currently projected amount if we continue to keep people locked up in prisons and jails during the pandemic. Rebel Diaz will be headlining the Bail Fund’s Saturday, May 16, 7pm concert, meant to bring awareness to the deadly situation and help raise funds to free people who are locked up because they can’t afford their bail. 

 

Although the jail population has reduced, the racial disparities in the Dane County Jail, in Madison WI, have only increased during the pandemic. The Free The 350 Bail Fund seeks to build a grassroots response to the virtual death sentence being meted out by elected officials in Dane County by their inaction, aided this week by Rebel Diaz. RSVP & view the concerts here.

 

RebelDiaz

Rebel Diaz

 

The Free The 350 Bail Fund, which seeks to prioritize bailing out Black people incarcerated in the Dane County jail system, and also seeks to end the unjust and antiquated prison and jail system in general, is coming off of two weeks of successful fundraising campaigns, including raising $2,200 over Mother’s Day weekend towards the bail of two Black mothers who are currently in the jail because they don’t have enough money. Rebel Diaz will be headlining the Saturday May 16 concert at 7pm. “Few artists blend hip-hop and leftist politics like Rebel Diaz.” “Whether its Ferguson, Occupy or a myriad of other social struggles, Rebel Diaz has been there and engaged.” Also performing, is Lil Guillotine, who was recently named in Tone Madison’s “Madison singles and deep cuts that stood out in 2019,” and was featured in a Teen Vogue article. He also helped start the Bail Fund and is a key member of the Bail Fund’s fundraising, finance and publicity teams.

 

Please contact LilGuillotine@LilGuillotine.com for interviews and further info.
Website https://freethe350bailfund.wordpress.com// // Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FreeThe350BailFund/ // Twitter https://twitter.com/FreeThe350 // Instagram https://www.instagram.com/freethe350bailfund// // Press Kit https://lilguillotine.com/electronic-press-kit/

Bail Fund Benefit To Stop The Deaths In The Jail And Community, Saturday, 7PM

FREE THE 350 BAIL FUND ANNOUNCES ONLINE CONCERTS TO RAISE BAIL TO MITIGATE THE PUBLIC HEALTH RISK OF CAGING PEOPLE DURING A PANDEMIC
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There is a public health crisis in the Dane County jail, and the Free The 350 Bail Fund is doing something about it by helping organize decarceration campaigns, part of which is holding online concerts to free them all.

 

The bail fund will host online concerts to stop the potential death sentence being handed to people in jail by elected officials, to protect their 8th amendment right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment and to prevent untold avoidable deaths that will result from keeping people caged during a pandemic and sending others in and out of the jail facility. The concerts will be held online for the next five Saturdays, at 7pm CST. RSVP & view the concerts here.

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Ceschi Ramos

The Free The 350 Bail Fund, which seeks to prioritize bailing out Black people incarcerated in the Dane County jail system, and also seeks to end the unjust and antiquated prison and jail system in general, has freed 6 people from the Dane County jail in April so far. Ceschi Ramos will be headlining the Saturday May 2 concert at 7pm. Ceschi Ramos has been described as “a Connecticut ambassador atop the international indie hip hop world,” and “blends lush indie rock production with left-field hip-hop like no one else.” He has been featured in Hip Hop DX multiple times and has over fifteen years of music performance experience. Also performing, is Lil Guillotine, who was recently named in Tone Madison’s “Madison singles and deep cuts that stood out in 2019,” and was featured in a Teen Vogue article and who also helped start the Bail Fund acting as a key member of the Bail Fund’s fundraising and finance team.

 

Please contact LilGuillotine@LilGuillotine.com for interviews and further info.
Website https://freethe350bailfund.wordpress.com// // Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FreeThe350BailFund/ // Twitter https://twitter.com/FreeThe350 // Instagram https://www.instagram.com/freethe350bailfund// // Press Kit https://lilguillotine.com/electronic-press-kit/

There Is A Public Health Crisis In Dane County.

by Liam Manjon – Sunday April 19, 2020

Keeping people in jails will result in untold deaths. 

A public health crisis that was entirely avoidable had elected officials, judges and state department of corrections officials acted proactively to stop the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. After weeks of inaction by the sheriff, there are now myriad folks testing positive for the virus inside the Dane County jail. On Tuesday 4/21/20, it was found that 16 out of 22 people FROM A SINGLE pod have tested positive for covid-19 and as a result the sheriff has arranged for the national guard to come into the jail and test everybody.

Jail Pic

In the meantime, there are people who continue to exit and enter the jail, spreading the corona virus to the broader community, which will result in the deaths of people in our neighborhoods due to the negligence of elected officials, judges and state department of corrections officials. While increased testing being called for by the sheriff in the jail  is of course needed in order to be able to form cogent public policy to curb the spread of the deadly virus, the need to release people from the jails is imminent and pressing and should not be held off another day. COVID-19 could claim the lives of approximately 100,000 more people across the U.S. than current projections stipulate if jail populations are not dramatically and immediately reduced, according to a new epidemiological model released on 4/26/20 by the ACLU and academic research partners. “The revolving doors of jails make them a tinderbox for COVID-19 spread within our communities.”

 

The lives of people in the community are at risk yet elected officials, judges and state department of corrections officials continue to drag their feet on what is a no-brainer of a solution, releasing people from the closed quarters of the jail, where social distancing is impossible. And indeed, elected officials, judges and state department of corrections officials DO have the authority to release people from the jail. The sheriff can place people on electronic monitoring, the department of corrections can release people’s probation/parole holds, the judges can change bails to signature bonds, the District Attorney can drop charges against people, the county board of supervisors can reduce the operating budget of the jail, and Governor Evers has the power to commute the sentences of incarcerated people.

 

Folks who are incarcerated are essentially being served a death sentence by leaving them exposed to the virus without the ability to practice life saving social distancing or providing them with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Although the death rate from the virus among the general population is extremely high, due to baked in racism in the systems of our white supremacist patriarchal capitalist society, it is EVEN HIGHER for Black, Indigenous and People of Color, which Dane County consistently, disproportionately, locks up in the Dane County jail. Therefore, it is a life and death proposition when considering whether or not to free people from the jail.

 

We have heard that one of the methods that the Sheriff has been utilizing to deal with the virus spreading in the jail is to lock people up in solitary confinement in an attempt to socially isolate them from the rest of the population. Solitary confinement is a form of torture and is considered a human rights abuse by the UN and other international bodies and is an unethical and ineffective tactic to employ during a pandemic.

 

Keeping people in close quarter cages during a pandemic is a cruel and unusual punishment, which is protected against in the eighth amendment of the constitution, which the elected officials are apparently ignoring. 

 

More than 100 people have died across the countries in the jails and prisons so far, and the number is sure to rise should there continue to be no action taken. 

 

The evidence is compelling and undeniable that we must free them all or be responsible for untold deaths. To put the icing on the cake, there is no proof that incarcerating people ACTUALLY reduces crime or violence in society, in fact there is evidence to the contrary, incarcerating people in jails and prisons increases crime and violence so the argument for keeping them in there is non existent.

 

There is much precedent for freeing people. So far many countries including, Iran, Turkey, Ethiopia, Indonesia, India, Morocco and the UK have freed hundreds of thousands of people from their jails and prisons, recognizing the public health crisis that it poses. California, Washington and Ohio have, or are moving toward, freeing thousands too and many cities across the country have also moved to free people

 

So tell Sheriff David Mahoney, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, the judges, the Dane County board of supervisors, the department of corrections and Governor Tony Evers to Free Them All NOW, before their inaction results in untold deaths of our loved ones and community members.

 

Free The 350 Bail Fund Concert Fundraiser Huge Success!

On Saturday February 3rd, at 7pm, at the Art In on East Washington Avenue in Madison Wisconsin, the Free The 350 Bail Fund held its first ever benefit concert. It was a huge success! $965 was raised by attendees who donated $10 each to the bail fund, despite the concert being held in the middle of one of the cities biggest snow storms this season. Fun was had, bars were dropped, bass lines were felt by all and abolitionist messages were spread.

Big shout out to DJ/Producer, Matt Cousin, who’s impromptu donation of time and dj abilities was a much needed reprieve for the over worked performance director and sound person, lil guillotine and president long boi, respectively. The emcee and performer, The Profit aka John Denver, tore up the mic and threw down bars like lead anvils, respectively.

Huge shout out to our starring performers, DequadrayTGRambunxious,  Willie Wright, Tha CatalystEvaridaeHanks and Kilo! If you haven’t checked out, subscribed, followed, shared and liked their social medias you should definitely click the links in each of their names and do that now, these are great talented Madison artists who just threw down for the cause and deserve mad props!

This dope article by Badger Herald came out about the concert too! Check out the youtube video of some of the show here.

Here is some media from the event:

 

 

The following pics are from 21 Eye Photography:

Stay tuned for more events and ways to get involved with the Free The 350 Bail Fund. Please contact us if you know someone in Dane county jail who is in there for being poor and Black and can’t afford bail, FreeThe350BailFund @ gmail.com or through this website.