DALLAS — This Thursday, clergy and organizers with Faith in Texas will free nine people who are unable to afford their own bail from the Dallas County jail.
The organization will use $100,000 from its Luke 4:18 Bail Fund to free the nine people, according to a Tuesday news release.
Luke 4:18 is a Bible verse that reads: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." (New International Version) The verse is quoting Jesus upon his return to Nazareth after being tempted in the desert by the devil for 40 days.
The bail fund "aims to draw attention to the inequities within the cash bail system and engage community members – especially those directly impacted by the justice system – in the fight to address those injustices," according to Faith in Texas' website.
The ceremony marking the bail payment will happen at 2 p.m. In addition to the bail payment, Faith in Texas will also gift the people they free with $100 each upon their release.
"The cash bail system fails to make communities safer. Rather, it deepens existing inequities by preventing people who have not yet had their day in court from returning to their families, jobs, and community simply because they do not have the means to post bail, while allowing the wealthy to walk free," Faith in Texas wrote in the news release.
This September, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 6, or the "Damon Allen Act," into law. The law prohibits the release on personal bond of defendants charged with an offense involving violence or who are charged while released on bail, even if the judge determines they pose no threat to public safety. Now, a person accused of violence may only get out of jail by posting a cash bail.
The law also says a defendant must be granted personal bond, surety or cash bond or denied bail within 48 hours of being arrested. It would require judicial training, data collection and officials to looks at the defendant’s criminal history before setting bail, according to a report from The Texas Tribune.
Abbott said he signed the law into being because of a handful of high-profile murder cases where the criminal killed someone while awaiting trial for another crime. However, criminal justice reform advocates say the law is discriminatory to minorities and poor people.
Under the new law, a wealthy criminal could leave jail while a person who cannot afford bail sits behind bars for committing the exact same crime.
"There is literally no evidence - none - that paying cash to get out of jail makes you less likely to commit a crime than someone who got out of pretrial custody without having to pay cash bail," Texas Appleseed staff attorney Carson White told our sister station KENS in San Antonio.
WFAA will be at Faith in Texas' Thursday event and will provide coverage as it happens. Download our free WFAA app to stay up-to-date on all news stories in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.