In 2015, roughly 45,000 New Yorkers were jailed because they couldn’t pay their court-assigned bail. Today in New York City, only one in ten people who are arrested are able to pay bail when they’re first brought before a judge. What’s bail? Who does it affect? And how?

In the fall and winter of 2017, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Caits Meissner and public high school students from the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice (LGJ) to investigate these questions. Students surveyed members of the school community, interviewed key stakeholders working on the issue, and sat in on public arraignments in Bronx Criminal Court. The crew created Who Makes Bail? to teach others about NYC’s bail system, how it works, and how it could work differently.

Students debuted their project at LGJ, where they presented their booklet, demonstrated their interview skills, and shared their creative process.

Get your own booklet here!

What People Are Saying

“[Before this project] I didn’t think that people in power cared. But through this project I got to meet some of these people and you realize that some of these people in power really do care and work hard to make change.” — Ty Greene, LGJ student

“What I learned from Caits, our Teaching Artist, is that artwork doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s the abstract or unique quality of the art that makes it interesting. And I think it shows in the booklet we made. And I’m really proud of it.” — Michael, LGJ student

Resources & Links

Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice (LGJ) combines law-related studies with real-world learning experiences for students in grades 6-12. The school has its own mock courtroom and crime forensic labs, and uses the New Bronx Criminal Court Complex as an extended classroom. Students explore careers in law and government through coursework, mentoring relationships, and internships while preparing for the challenges of college.

The Bronx Freedom Fund is a nonprofit charitable bail fund that helps indigent New Yorkers charged with low-level offenses avoid the devastating consequences of pretrial detention.

Funding Support

Major support for this program was provided by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

Special Thanks

Lise Brenner, Pema Domingo-Barker, Christine Gaspar, Jeneuse Geula, Michaela Rahimi, Frampton Tolbert, and Jenn Anne Williams


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Caits Meissner
  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong
  • LGJ 
  • Students
  • Michael Afriye
  • Ty Greene
  • Samantha Rosa
  • Andrew Silverio
  • Principal
  • Johanie Hernandez
  • Director of Corporate and Community Partnerships
  • Kimberly Felder