Southern alumnus Dylan Gibbons helping community with bail funds


Written by: Alana Crosby

Chattanoogans in Action for Love, Equality, & Benevolence (CALEB), a nonprofit organization tackling  rising pretrial incarceration rates, recently hired Southern alum Dylan Gibbons as its first manager. According to Gibbons, CALEB is a network of different organizations that have come together to address and create demonstrable methods for dealing with issues in the community.

Born in California and raised in Massachusetts, Gibbons majored in social work before graduating from Southern in 2020. He has always been interested in working with criminal justice reform and being involved in changing the community for the better. 

“This organization really appealed to me because they’re doing a lot of policy work as well, addressing some of the problems in Hamilton County and Chattanooga, including its criminal justice, economic mobility and education reform,” Gibbons said.

 Gibbons discovered the job opening for the bail fund manager position thanks to Kristie Wilder, a professor in Southern’s School of Social Work. Wilder referred Gibbons for the job. And, in December of last year, Gibbons moved from Massachusetts to Tennessee to work for CALEB.

CALEB was founded in 2017. Its goal is to bring together different groups in the community, such as churches, labor unions, nonprofits and other groups that have the same vision of helping the community and representing its needs, according to the information on its website.

A few of Gibbons’ specific tasks include creating a volunteer network, increasing referrals and getting the information about the bail fund to the community.

According to Gibbons, the success of the bail fund can be witnessed in the growing awareness of the resource. In addition, CALEB received organized office space that makes it easier for reaching people and bailing them out.

Since joining the CALEB task force as bail fund manager, Gibbons said he has seen the program continue to expand and grow. According to Gibbons, the community has helped bail out 11 or 12 individuals this year. 

“The bail fund went from having a loose network of volunteers running it to [a] paid staff member, which would be me, managing the ins and outs of the bail fund,” Gibbons said. “We’ve been able to get a physical office space located in one of the most at-risk communities in our city.” 

According to Gibbons, this year, CALEB aims to free 200 individuals from Silverdale Detention Center and Hamilton County Jail. On April 14, CALEB appeared on WRCB-TV, to discuss the Black Mamas Bailout Campaign, which aims to free 15 Black mothers in the community by Mother’s Day.

“The goal of CALEB is to empower the people within their communities, to collectively identify issues of concern, work towards an effective resolution and amplify the power of residents, and to enhance the quality of life,” Gibbons said.

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