A software program that mines Monero to bail people out of jail has seen an uptick in use as protests over the police killing of George Floyd continue across the U.S. The software is called Bail Bloc and runs in the background of your computer, passively generating Monero that is then distributed to bail funds.
“I noticed a 20% increase in our hashrate this week as opposed to last week,” Grayson Earle, who developed the Bail Bloc software, said in an email.
“We are dedicated as a project and as individuals to the movement for black lives, and feel that the urgency of the situation requires direct action and people should direct resources to organizations on the ground that can respond rapidly.”
The hash rate is the measure of how quickly the cryptographic calculations for mining are executed. The Bail Bloc hash rate is currently 94.5 KH/s, according to Earle.
Bail funds are used to pay bail for those in pre-trial detention, which can last for weeks or even months otherwise. Since 1970 pretrial detentions have increased by 433%, according to research by the Center for American Progress. In 2015, more than 60 percent of the total jail population in the U.S. was made up of people held for pretrial detention, according to a study from the Vera Institute, a nonprofit that campaigns for justice system reform. In the wake of protests against police brutality more than 10,000 protestors have been arrested in the U.S.
Earle originally conceived of Bail Bloc following President Trump’s 2016 election as a way to address clicktivism (where people signal their fidelity to cause without doing anything about it). Monero is a leading privacy-focused coin that hides the identity of miners and Earle said Monero’s mining algorithm has helped Bail Bloc.
“The Random-X mining algorithm helped our project because most of the people running Bail Bloc on their computers are using mid-level consumer laptops without dedicated graphics cards (GPUs),” said Earle. “Now that GPUs and CPUs are on even grounds in terms of hashrate, we are collecting Monero at a much higher rate than before.”
Thus far Bail Bloc has raised over $8,000, or enough to bail out 13 people. Its next check will be going to the Immigrant Bail Fund in Connecticut.
Several bail funds are accepting direct donations in cryptocurrency.
The Bail Project is a national nonprofit that provides free bail assistance to thousands of low-income Americans every year, and accepts donations in bitcoin. Thus far it has secured freedom for over 10,000 people in over 20 cities across the country, working with community partners to advance systemic change.
“We use the National Revolving Bail Fund to support bailouts in over 20 jurisdictions, and assistance is provided by our teams of full-time Bail Disruptors and Client Advocates, who are community-based,” said Bail Project CEO Robin Steinberg. “We started accepting crypto from the beginning, in no small part because Mike Novogratz, chairman of our board, is a firm believer in cryptocurrency and encouraged us.”
Pilar Maria Weiss, Director of the Community Justice Exchange, a non-profit, said that some bail funds that have more infrastructure accept Bitcoin but many protest bail funds are very informal and therefore only use Cash App for Go Fund Me pages. The Cash App does let users pay or donate using bitcoin though.
All three bail projects recommend taking direct action as well as just donating.
“Get proximate to the problem,” said Steinberg. “Don’t turn a blind eye on injustice. Speak up. Make sure your elected officials know that you will not allow these injustices to continue. Listen to the Black community. Heed the voices of those who have been most directly impacted by our criminal legal system.”