Bail’s Set… What’s Next?

For friends and family members of a person who’s been arrested, the act of paying bail is a stressful and confusing process. Beyond finding the money cover the cost of bail, payers also have to decide how to pay. There are usually two options: cash bail or a bail bond. But there are big differences between paying with cash and paying with a bond—and people have important rights when paying with either. Those who don’t understand their rights are often taken advantage of and lose more money. This adds to the injustice of the bail system, which sends about 45,000 New Yorkers to jail each year simply because they can’t afford to pay bail. 

CUP collaborated with Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and designer Alex Tatusian to create Bail’s Set, What’s Next?, a guide that helps bail payers understand the difference between cash bail and bail bonds, and navigate the process of paying. This booklet uses a series of scenarios to help individuals make informed decisions about how to pay based on their own financial situations. It also includes information on how and where to pay, when payers are entitled to refunds, how payers can try to protect themselves from illegally high fees.

A Spanish version of the guide was released in May 2019.

Get your copy of the booklet in English here. You can also download a Spanish version here.

Resources & Links

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund challenges the unfair use of cash bail and advocates for equal justice. As a revolving bail fund, BCBF pays bail for low-income New Yorkers charged with misdemeanors. 

Alex Tatusian is a graphic designer and writer primarily working on critical social justice issues in New York City. 

Public Access Design is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). Public Access Design projects use design to make complex urban issues accessible to the New Yorkers most affected by them.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support was provided by Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

The Spanish edition of the guide was made possible by John Cary, Christine Coletta, Faizah Malik, Jeremy Robinson-Leon, David Smiley, Betsy W., and 13 other generous donors.

Special Thanks

Oscar Nuñez, Mark Torrey, Jenn Anne Williams, Christine Gaspar, Frampton Tolbert, Deja Holden, Sylvie Graubard, Amanda Surujedeo, Kevin Cheng, Asa Sapse


  • CUP
  • Ingrid Haftel
  • Shristi Shrestha

  • The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
    Advocacy Partner
  • Rachel Foran
  • Peter Goldberg
  • Pilar Weiss

  • Brooklyn Defender Services
  • Nick Malinowski

  • Designer
  • Alex Tatusian