The Bail Project app runs in the background on your computer and mines cryptocurrency to donate toward bail for low-income people awaiting trial

On a mission to fight the unethical behaviors of the U.S. prison system, Bail Bloc is an app that runs in the background and uses excess computing power to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero. From there, the platform converts newly generated Monero into U.S. dollars, and automatically donates the funds to ‘the Bail Project,’ a non-profit initiative that grew out of the Bronx Freedom Fund’s work. To help post bail for low-income people awaiting trial, all one needs to do is download the Bail Bloc application and run it—it will take care of the rest.

The bail system is often used as an intimidation tactic for people in poverty, as an inability to pay keeps these individuals in jail while they await their court date. According to the Bronx Freedom Fund’s founder, Robin Steinberg, more than 90% of those who cannot post bail and stay locked up until their case is over end up pleading guilty, while more than half of her clients in the Bronx who were freed on bail have had their cases dismissed by prosecutors once released. The Bail Project is an attempt to take the Bronx Freedom Fund’s endeavors of alleviating the damages of New York’s prison system to a national scale.

And Bail Bloc isn’t just a socially conscious platform, it’s a feat of technical brilliance all the same. Because your average laptop uses about 5% of its total computing power, Bail Bloc is able to allocate an additional 20% to mine between three to five dollars a month. While that might not seem like a lot, remember this: bail money returns to the source after the person in question appears in court. Therefore, each dollar that is raised in the Bronx can continue to be reused two or three times per year, according to data published by the Bronx Freedom Fund. Multiply that by 10,000 participants, and you’re able to massively disrupt an archaic and unjust process.

In an email to Co.Design, Bail Project co-creator Grayson Earle wrote, “After Trump was elected, I was trying to think of ways to put technology to use that was far, far away from the Facebook model of bubbles of people ‘liking’ each others’ political content… I landed on the idea of creating software that could allow people to donate computing power to radical causes. The software would mine Monero in the background of everyday use, and at the end of every month a check would be cut to fund radical projects.”

The idea to focus on raising money for bail came from the realization that becoming a force for positive change within this particular niche requires relatively less funding to make an impact. Simulations indicate that if 5,000 people were to run Bail Bloc for a year, they could raise enough money to free 1,800 people from pretrial detention.

In this way, Bail Bloc makes good on its promise of being a liberating technology (literally freeing people from incarceration through the power of crowdsourcing a utility), and sets an example for us to discern between modern platforms that legitimately free us, and those that only pretend to.

The Bail Project


Lead Image: Prison bars and a hallway via Shutterstock

On a mission to fight the unethical behaviors of the U.S. prison system, Bail Bloc is an app that runs in the background and uses excess computing power to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero. From there, the platform converts newly generated Monero into U.S. dollars, and automatically donates the funds to ‘the Bail Project,’ a non-profit initiative that grew out of the Bronx Freedom Fund’s work. To help post bail for low-income people awaiting trial, all one needs to do is download the Bail Bloc application and run it—it will take care of the rest.