In addition to necessities such as housing, transportation, schooling, and medical care, incarceration and punishment have become forms of financial extraction. Time in jail and prison now means escalating fines and fees for everything from court appearances and probation costs to “room and board,” mandatory drug test, and bail — what we call “carceral debt.”
Bail means people are charged money for their constitutionally-guaranteed right to pre-trial freedom, and if they can’t afford it, they go to jail. In other words, cities and towns across the United States fund their racist courts and jails out of the pockets of the poorest and most marginalized residents — people who are overwhelmingly Black, Indigenous, brown, poor, disabled, and migrants. This carceral debt, along with the entire prison industrial complex, should be abolished.