Robin Steinberg

Public defender, activist
Robin Steinberg is the CEO of The Bail Project, a new organization designed to combat mass incarceration in the United States by disrupting the money bail system — one person at a time. As she says: "I hate injustice and simply can't sit still when I see it."

Why you should listen

Robin Steinberg is the CEO of The Bail Project and a senior fellow at the UCLA Law Criminal Justice Program. As she writes: "When I started my career, all I wanted was to be a great public defender for my clients. I vowed to fight for their rights, dignity and humanity in a system that seemed intent on crushing them, their families and their communities. It was hard work, but I woke up everyday inspired and with a sense of purpose -- even when the unfairness of the system made me cry. I was doing my part in the larger struggle for social justice -- one client at a time. But the need to do more, to rethink the very nature of public defense and challenge the larger systemic issues that fueled the cycle of criminalization and poverty led me to start The Bronx Defenders in 1997. For 20 years, I worked to create a new vision of public defense, extending legal representation and advocacy beyond criminal court with the goal of breaking that cycle. That process led to the founding of several new initiatives, including Still She Rises, a public defender office dedicated exclusively to the representation of women in the criminal justice system, and The Bronx Freedom Fund, a revolving bail fund that used philanthropic dollars to pay bail for clients who couldn’t buy their freedom.

"As it turns out, what I love most is getting people out of jail so they can be home with their families and have a fighting chance in court. My new organization, The Bail Project, will take the lessons we learned in the Bronx and go to dozens of high-need jurisdictions with the goal of paying bail for 160,000 people over the next five years, disrupting the bail system, reducing the human suffering it causes and continuing the fight to decarcerate America."

Robin Steinberg’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Robin Steinberg

Live from TED2018

In Case You Missed It: An audacious day 2 at TED2018

April 12, 2018

Three stellar main stage sessions of talks — including the launch of the Audacious Project — plus workshops, exhibits and TED Unplugged, a session of talks given by audience members, made for a jam-packed day 2 at TED2018. Here are some of the themes we heard echoing through the opening day, as well as some […]

Continue reading
Live from TED2018

The Audacious Project: Notes from Session 4 of TED2018, with 7 bold ideas for global change — and $406 million to support them

April 12, 2018

The lights go down. A voice emerges — strong and hopeful. It’s Laurene Powell Jobs, the founder of philanthropic powerhouse Emerson Collective. “Among the many things I love about TED is the simplicity and clarity of its mission — to spread ideas,” she says. “But in order to create lasting change at scale, we need […]

Continue reading