Since our inception, we have freed over 1,200 Nashvillians from jail.
The Bail Fund was founded in 2016 by local philanthropists–the late Martin Brown and Joan Shayne. Brown read an article in the New York Times called “The Bail Trap,” which opened his eyes to the issue of money bail and motivated him to address the issue in Nashville. Since then, we have freed over 1,200 Nashvillians from jail.
Though paying bail is still an integral part of NCBF’s work, we have expanded into working not only to interrupt the money bail system, but to permanently disrupt it. Our first move in this direction was a lawsuit in partnership with ACLU, ACLU-TN, Civil Rights Corps, and the Choosing Justice Initiative. The lawsuit challenges a local rule that requires friends and family members of jailed individuals to agree that the money they pay to free their loved ones from jail can be automatically seized by the courts to pay court fines and fees.
We also created Nashville Community Bail Fund Court Watch to hold system actors accountable and educate the community about our courts.
In 2020, NCBF and bail funds across the country received a surge of support in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. We were able to add three new staff members to our team. We are proudly led by formerly caged individuals–three of our five staff members are formerly incarcerated, now working to free individuals from the same fate.
Rahim has served as the Nashville Community Bail Fund Manager since May 2018. A native Nashvillian, Rahim has seen and felt how poverty negatively impacts people in the criminal legal system. Arrested at age 18, he spent 26 years of his life caged within seven different prisons across Tennessee. During that time, he completed course work for Lipscomb University, Ohio University, and Vanderbilt Divinity School. Rahim was a co-founder of SALT (Schools for Alternative Learning and Transformation), an inclusive undergraduate program that provides a safe learning space for non-traditional students at Riverbend Prison. While incarcerated, he also self-published his own book, Save Your Own Life. Upon his release from prison, Rahim received a Presidential Scholarship to American Baptist College, and worked part-time as an advocate for Children’s Defense Fund Nashville. In 2017, he founded Unheard Voices Outreach to empower formerly incarcerated persons to be leaders in reentry, and community building. Rahim graduated from American Baptist College with a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurial Leadership in 2019. Rahim continues to use his voice to advocate for decarceration and transformative justice.
Jessica moved to Nashville in 2015 as a full-time musician. After a few years of writing, touring, and sharing her music, she decided to pursue a career path that aligns with her other passions. Prior to joining the Bail Fund, she worked for The Nashville Food Project in both their garden and kitchen programs. She also serves as an admin assistant for Unheard Voices Outreach, where she partners with Rahim to reduce recidivism and end felonism within Nashville’s formerly caged community. Jessica spends most of her free time cooking or reading, and still plays music for fun.
In 2020, after completing his undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis, Jameel returned to Nashville where his initial pursuit of a higher education began at Fisk University in 2001. Convicted and sentenced at age 19, he spent 13 consecutive years of his life caged within five different prisons throughout the state of Missouri. A north St. Louis city native, Jameel has firsthand knowledge and experience of the social and psychological impacts of growing up in a community beset by concentrated disadvantage. Determined to continue rebuilding his life by serving as an advocate for and representative of marginalized groups of people, Jameel will begin applying to law schools in 2021. He is a proud father of two young children.
Student, Organizer, Activist and Writer.
Jeneisha serves as an IGNITE National Fellow, Free Breakfast Program Continuing Organizer, Barbara J. Harris Scholarship Fund Founder and a Nashville Community Bail Fund Community Organizer.
With two arrests and an unjustified warrant targeting her activism, the State of Tennessee has attempted to silence her voice and her work. Jeneisha perseveres every time by continuing to organize on the ground… this time, with the NCBF.
“After the murder of George Floyd, I spoke at a protest and lead throughout the day. A warrant was sent out for my arrest for Felony Aggravated Rioting…The warrant was later rescinded. The Nashville Community Bail Fund was prepared to make my bail. My way of saying thank you is by aiding in their work to end wealth based detention, because no one deserves to be jailed simply because they cannot afford to get out. I am so excited to contribute and connect my first hand experience of activism + organizing to this space. Happy to do my part in this fight.
Our Board of Directors
Joan has long been a volunteer reading tutor with young children. She came to understand that the children she was tutoring (and whose innate talents she recognized) might well be on the school-to-prison pipeline if they couldn’t read on grade level by end of third grade. She landed on the idea of a community bail fund for those sent to jail upon arrest just because they could not afford bail. With the hard work and coordination of many others, particularly her friend Martin Brown, the NCBF was formed. Joan continues to study and remain active as an advocate on criminal justice issues and is hoping to help find a way to end that school-to-prison pipeline.
Aisha is a career public defender and indigent defense advocate. She earned her JD from Vanderbilt Law School and worked in Metro Nashville Public Defender’s Office for 9 years, first as an Assistant Public Defender, then as a General Sessions Court Team Leader & ultimately as the Deputy Public Defender. In 2019, she became the Executive Director of Still She Rises, Inc. located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first holistic defense office in the country dedicated to working exclusively with mothers in the criminal and civil legal systems.
Dr. Rosevelt L. Noble
Rosevelt Noble attended Vanderbilt University and completed a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Sociology and Human & Organizational Development. In 2003, he completed a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt in Sociology with a dissertation entitled, Race Matters: Black Rage in the American Prison System. A scholar of the American criminal justice system, he has publications pertaining to the interracial dynamics of prison violence, racial disparities in incarceration sentences, and he is currently working on a publication examining racial bias in the jury selection process in capital punishment cases. He has worked as a quantitative research consultant for the Tennessee Department of Corrections, the Federal Prosecutors Office, and several law firms. In the fall of 2002, he started teaching in the Vanderbilt Sociology Department as a Senior Lecturer while simultaneously working at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission as the Director of the Workforce Investment Act. After leaving state government in 2014, he continued teaching at Vanderbilt and became a Senior Fellow at The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt. In 2017, he was named Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt.e.
Reverend Davie Tucker
Reverend Tucker is the Pastor of Beech Creek Missionary Baptist Church and currently serves as the Coordinator of Alumni Affairs for American Baptist College. He is a member of the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship, Nashville Baptist Ministers Conference and director of the Center for Equity, Change and Sustainability, and a Commissioner on the Metro Human Relations Commission. He is also the founder and chairperson of the Center for Imagination, Inc., an after school program focusing on at-risk youth. Reverend Tucker strongly believes that the current criminal justice system in America is wealth-based and negatively and disproportionately impacts persons who are resource challenged. He is committed to system reform and the advocacy for those adversely affected.
Dr. Craig Philip
Dr. Craig Philip is Research Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Transportation Center at Vanderbilt University; his research focus includes infrastructure sustainability and resilience, transport safety and regulatory policy. He came to Nashville in 1982 to join Ingram Industries and was CEO of their Marine Transport businesses until his retirement in 2014. He began his career with Conrail and later Southern Pacific Railroads, after earning a PHD from MIT and Bachelors degree from Princeton. He is active in numerous professional societies and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2014. Professor Philip has been actively engaged in campus worked involving mental health and social justice and is presently involved with the Vanderbilt Prison Project as Faculty Advisor and the Advisory Board for the Vanderbilt Recovery Support Program. In the community he has served on the Boards of the Rochelle Center, Franklin Road Academy, and the Nashville Civic Design Center. He currently serves on the Boards of Cumberland Heights, the Cumberland River Compact, the National Waterways Foundation and Seamen’s Church Institute.
Tracey Shafroth has worked as a philanthropy advisor to family foundations across the country for the past three decades. Her current philanthropy work is focused on criminal justice, climate change, food waste and land conservation. She has worked in Nashville since 2013 and helped to establish the Nashville Community Bail Fund in 2014. She serves on the Michigan Advisory Board of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, on the Midwest Council of the National Parks Conservation Association, as a board member of the Nashville Community Bail Fund, as a fellow with the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum, as a strategic advisor to the Vital Lands Program of the Grand Victoria Foundation, and as a volunteer for Freshwater Futures.