South Andover (MA) Church Champions Bail Reform

South Andover (MA) Church Champions Bail Reform

Submitted by the South Church of Andover, MA Social Justice Coalition (SJC)

Is it justice that compared to white men charged with the same crime and having the same criminal histories, Black men have their bail set 35% higher? Or is it fair that being Black increases the chances of being held in jail pretrial by 25%? Or is it fair that the majority of women in jail before their trial are charged with nonviolent crimes and their average yearly income is scarcely more than the average bail amount of $10,000?

South Church of Andover, MA ‘s Social Justice Coalition (SJC) found these disparities, and far too many more, for the poor and the BIPOC community (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) very compelling. Scripture called the SJC to action. Do you hear this call? Can the SJC be of help sharing our experience, resources, and support?  

Early this spring, the SJC presented a Zoom panel discussion on the problems with bail. A promising next step presented itself when the SJC learned that a North Carolina UCC conference resolution for bail bond reform would be considered by the UCC General Synod, in July. The SJC Criminal Justice Reform working group hammered out a professional quality fact sheet for the SNEUCC delegates, ”Bail: The Hard Truth.” An SJC request to present the resolution for bail reform to the delegation was graciously granted.

Jan Holden, Jennifer Bouchard, and Jennifer Capone spent hours creating and honing a 15 minute Zoom presentation, which they presented to the SNEUCC delegates on the opening day of the General Synod. The resolution committee formed to make a recommendation to the whole Synod met twice during the week with input from a SJC observer Meredith Moody. The committee unanimously voted in favor of the resolution, which was subsequently brought to the floor where its language was strengthened for more urgency. The final resolution for the UCC to pursue bail bond reform or its elimination was overwhelmingly approved!

Connecticut and Rhode Island have bail bond systems, often the most egregious type of bail. Massachusetts has a cash bail bond system where the law is adequate but the implementation is unjust. Is your congregation called to advocate for Bail reform? The SJC stands ready to offer its Fact Sheet, “Introduction to Bail” presentation and experience with the Zoom panel discussion, as well as to meet with other church social action groups to share resources and next steps. For more information, email the SJC at or call/text Meredith Moody, 978-807-4251.
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