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Pho Fundraiser seeks to raise bail money for Dane County residents

The Bail Phondraiser aims to raise money for residents’ bail for the holidays.

The Bail Phondraiser aims to raise money for residents’ bail for the holidays.

Image By: Amileah Sutliff

The Bail Phondraiser is a fundraiser aimed at helping Dane County residents pay cash bails while awaiting trial — with pho.

On Dec. 14, home-cooked pho soup will be offered for $5 a bowl, along with a larger conversation on the carceral system with the greater Madison community.

The event is in reaction to the long-standing history of Dane County residents being held in jail before their trial, for weeks or sometimes months, due to inability to pay bail in cash, according to event coordinator Tommy Valtin-Erwin.

Each year, it happens to almost 750 residents, reported Free the 350, a collection of Madison-based groups.

“Research shows that a shared meal among people promotes trust and cooperation,” said Valtin-Erwin. “My goal is to build a movement that can take on an abolitionist mission.”

This is the third phondraiser hosted by Valtin-Erwin, the first two taking place in his apartment. He focused the event on pho because it's affordable and manageable to make in large quantities.

All donations will go directly to the Free the 350 bail fund, which seeks to help pay impoverished residents’ bail for the holiday season and “end the unjust and antiquated prison and jail system in general,” according to the event’s Facebook page.

The fund is organized collaboratively by numerous local organizations, including LGBT Books to Prisoners, Madison-Area Urban Ministry and Freedom Inc.

The event will take place at the Social Justice Center on 1202 Williamson Street from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

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