Freiheitsfonds - Freedom Day

6. August 2024

Support the Freedom Day!

August 6 is Freedom Day again! On a single day, we want to simultaneously free as many people as possible nationwide who are in jail for riding without a ticket.

Our action will be the largest prisoner liberation in German history - and you can join in!

Support us now with your donation and set a sign against the inhumane system of substitute imprisonment! Share the call, spread our action to your friends, grandparents or children!

Freedom Fund - Get out of jail

We free prisoners

No ticket? Jail!

Riding without a ticket is a criminal offense in Germany. Thousands of people end up in prison every year because they can't afford a ticket for public transport. People spend up to a year in jail. Those affected are predominantly unemployed (87%), without a fixed address (15%) and suicidal (15%).

The offense was introduced by the Nazis in 1935. To this day, people are often punished more severely for riding without a ticket than, for example, people who drive drunk. Drunk driving is usually only punished as a misdemeanor.

No one should end up in jail because of a missing ticket! Therefore we demand that §265a StGB of 1935 be overturned. Riding without a ticket must be decriminalized and free use of public transport must be made possible over the long term! In addition, transport companies must stop prosecuting people who ride without a ticket. More info on the current research at FragDenStaat

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann has repeatedly announced a reform of §265a StGB for 2023 and declared it the year of criminal law reform - but so far he has not acted. More than two-thirds of the population (69%) support a reform, and majorities exist among supporters of all parties. The SPD and the Greens also support decriminalization. The federal government must act now!

But we are not waiting for politics. The Freedom Fund initiative frees people from prison throughout Germany who are behind bars for "riding without a ticket". And because each day of detention costs taxpayers around 150 euros per prisoner, our initiative even saves the state money.


Penalties paid by the Freedom Fund since December 2021

  • 994 prisoners freed
  • 183 years of jail resolved
  • 878K Euros invested
  • 14,2M Euros costs saved
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Past meets present

While progressive cities and municipalities have already decriminalized driving without a ticket, people in the rest of the country are still going to prison for not having a ticket. In short: in Berlin, the 1935 paragraph still has its effect, while Bremen has already arrived in the present. The cities' decision not to press charges shows that comprehensive decriminalization is possible. What we need now, however, is not a small state approach, but a nationwide solution. That is why Marco Buschmann must act now and finally delete the outdated paragraph!

  • Bremerhaven

    For cost reasons, Bremerhaven's public transport company has not filed criminal charges for missing tickets since 2012. Hans-Jürgen Jahnke, authorized signatory at Bremerhaven Bus, comments in the Taz: "The effort we have to put in just to find out addresses is disproportionate to the financial benefit".

    Learn more

  • Bremen

    The city of Bremen also followed suit in 2022. This is because prosecution results in costs of at least 32,000 euros: "This could have been used to buy more than just a ticket for the few people who are repeatedly caught without a ticket. Prevention measures are also cheaper and more effective than time behind bars," says Tim Sültenfuß, transport policy spokesperson for the Left Party.

    Instead, people affected by poverty who have been repeatedly checked without a ticket now only have to pay 10 euros a month for their ticket. BSAG currently has 58 people on this list; they only pay 10.50 euros for the ticket, the rest is paid by the state. For the state, this is much cheaper than a place in prison, which costs 130 euros a day in Bremen. Bremen is governed by a Senate made up of the SPD, Alliance 90/The Greens and The Left.

    Learn more

  • Düsseldorf

    In Düsseldorf in 2023, a cross-party motion by the Left Party, SPD, Greens, FDP and Climate Parliamentary Group led to a waiver of criminal charges for driving without a ticket. Mirja Cordes (Alliance 90/The Greens) explained that even the then NRW Minister of Justice, Peter Biesenbach (CDU), planned to decriminalize fare evasion in 2017. However, various councillors from the CDU argued that the Rheinbahn was only applying existing law and that a change to Section 265a of the German Criminal Code would have to be made at federal level in Berlin.

    Learn more

  • Wiesbaden

    Wiesbaden also decriminalized early on. A motion adopted in 2023 by the Greens, SPD, Left Party and Volt officially led to the "waiver of a criminal complaint in the case of fraudulent transportation services". The reason given for the change was the disproportionately high penalty for driving without a ticket. According to the application, the offense is often committed by poor people, who often end up in prison as a result of criminal prosecution and the alternative custodial sentence. This will no longer happen in Wiesbaden.

    Learn more

  • Münster

    A broad majority in Münster City Council also gave a clear signal to the municipal utilities at the end of 2023: if bus passengers do not have a ticket in future, they will not be charged with fare evasion. However, the transport company will continue to charge a higher fare in such cases.

    Learn more

  • Cologne

    In Cologne there will be no more jail for riding without a ticket. In December 2023, the city council here also decided to stop filing criminal charges. The initiative to change the rule came from the FDP. At the time, FDP council politician Volker Görzel argued that dispensing with criminal charges would ease the burden on the justice system. In Cologne, only parking tickets were collected for parking illegally, whereas driving without a ticket could land you in prison. That is not fair.

    Learn more

  • Karlsruhe

    In Karlsruhe, official decriminalization is imminent: in February 2024, the municipal council voted to stop prosecution for missing tickets with votes from the Greens, DIE LINKE and the SPD. However, it remains to be seen whether and when the plan can be implemented. The motion is actually more of a request to the Supervisory Board, which will ultimately decide on the future of fare evasion.

    Learn more

  • Halle

    In January 2024, MPs from the Greens, Left Party and the PARTEI ensured that no more penalty applications for driving without a ticket are made in Halle.

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  • Mainz

    In May 2024, the Mainz City Council decided that driving without a ticket should no longer be reported to the police. The motion received a 2/3 majority.

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  • Dresden

    In Dresden, the city council decided in June 2024 to no longer report anyone for missing tickets on buses or trains. A fine of 60 euros will still be issued here, but no one will be sent to prison for missing tickets.

    Learn more

  • Potsdam

    Until now, anyone using buses and trains without a ticket could end up in prison in Potsdam if they were unable to pay the fine. Potsdam's city councillors have now decided to put an end to this.

    Learn more

Stories from those affected

  • Deaf in prison

    Mr. L. is deaf. He has been in prison in Baden-Württemberg for three weeks because he took a bus without a ticket. The officers could barely communicate with him. The prison system is not prepared for deaf people. Even people with disabilities and serious illnesses are sent to prison for driving without a ticket if they can't pay their fine. Thanks to your support, we were able to get him out.

  • Children to the youth welfare office

    Mail from prison. Subject RUSHES VERY HURRY: “Mrs. R. is the mother of two children. One of the children has to have an operation in two days' time and the mother has to be present. Detention would mean that both children would have to be accommodated by the youth welfare office.” We quickly freed Ms. R.

  • From the women's shelter to prison

    Letter from the women's shelter: The daughter of a woman who fled from her ex-partner had to pay a fine because she took the bus three times without a ticket. Damage: €9. Fine: 750€. The mother and daughter were unable to pay the fine and were threatened with a substitute custodial sentence. Thanks to your donations, we were able to intervene quickly and buy their release!

  • 60€ or 2 months in jail

    In this case, we spent less money than ever before to buy a person's release: we paid €60 and thus got two months in jail. Mr. H. in Lower Saxony had taken the bus twice without a ticket and was fined 60 daily rates. How much money that is depends on his income. But because Mr. H. had nothing, the court set the daily rate as low as possible: €1. Mr. H. couldn't pay this money either - he also had to pay the increased transport charge. We paid everything.

  • Panic attacks

    Many of the inquiries we receive come from prison staff. They also think it's wrong that people are imprisoned because they don't have tickets. This telephone inquiry was particularly blatant: “Could you buy Mr. K.'s release quickly? He can't speak German and doesn't understand that he has to be in prison for driving without a ticket. No one here can talk to him and he has panic attacks.”

  • trans woman in a men's prison

    Ms. D. was sent to prison in Hesse for more than two months for driving without a ticket. She was sent to a men's prison - D. is a trans woman and has undergone the arduous process of changing her marital status - confirmed by the courts. However, this did not change the authorities' decision. With your help, we were able to pay Ms. D's fine so that she didn't have to go to a men's prison. Driving without a ticket must finally be decriminalized!

  • From the funeral service to prison

    Shortly before Christmas, we bought the release of a man in Lower Saxony whose partner had died 6 weeks ago and who then had to go to prison for driving without a ticket. Most people affected by criminalization are on shaky ground at the time of imprisonment anyway. It is not uncommon for those affected to have recently lost family members. Time in prison intensifies this uncertainty even further.

  • From prison to dialysis

    Mr. M. has been unable to work since contracting Covid. He was unable to pay for tickets to the doctor and his nine-year-old daughter, let alone the fines. That's why he was sent to prison. From there, he has to go to dialysis three times a week, accompanied by two officers. We bought his release with your help.

  • When everything comes together

    Mail from a prison in NRW: “Ms. M. is in prison for driving without a ticket. Her child has been placed in a foster family through the youth welfare office. She is deaf and can only lip-read in Polish.” This case clearly shows that it is not “only” the people who are imprisoned who are affected by criminalization. Relatives are often also severely affected. We have ransomed the person concerned.

  • Mentally ill, pregnant, imprisoned

    A prison employee in Bavaria asked us to buy the release of a prisoner: “The detainee is mentally ill and also pregnant. The case is particularly urgent.” The prisoner was due to serve almost two months for driving without a ticket. We were able to buy her release thanks to your donations.

  • Situation comes to a head

    Email from a Bavarian prison officer: “The situation here is getting worse. Ms. L. is becoming increasingly mentally unstable and seems very stressed by her imprisonment. She often cries through the night and the officers are also reaching their limits.” Ms. L. was due to serve almost three months in prison for driving without a ticket on the bus. We bought her release with your help.

  • Squandering taxpayers' money

    Criminalizing driving without a ticket is not only senseless and heartless, it's also damn expensive. This example shows that impressively: the daily rate for this person was also only €1. The man couldn't pay that either. By paying just €141, we saved him almost five months in prison. In this case, a single day in prison (approx. €200/day) cost the state more than the person concerned would have had to pay in total. The state would have spent 150 times as much money on the punishment as the person concerned owed it. Only because driving without a ticket is still a criminal offense.

  • Mental crisis

    A psychiatric clinic wrote to us: “Ms. L. is actually in prison for driving without a ticket and was granted leave for treatment with us. Due to her imprisonment, her mental illness has worsened considerably, so that she was no longer fit for prison.” After completing her treatment, however, she would have to return to prison. The psychiatrists: “A return to prison after treatment would destabilize her and possibly lead to a mental health crisis.” Thanks to your support, we were able to pay Ms. L.'s fine. Nobody should end up in prison for driving without a ticket!

  • Serious illnesses and disabilities

    “If you release me from prison, I could work on learning to walk again soon.” We often get letters like this. People with serious illnesses and disabilities are particularly at risk of imprisonment through alternative custodial sentences. When they are locked up, it always exacerbates their situation. Prison is not a place of rehabilitation, but a place of crisis . Especially for people serving alternative custodial sentences, there are often no services available. For the person concerned in this case, this meant that we had to buy his release so that he could start therapy and learn to walk again.

  • The last months in freedom

    We received a message: A man we had bought out in the past had died. A relative wrote to us: “I was very glad that you were able to prevent his further imprisonment. At least he had a few more good months of freedom and the experience that there are people who will help him.” He was already very ill and not really fit for prison. He died in December at the age of 57. May the earth be light to him.

  • Request from a police officer

    For the first time, we received a message from a police officer asking us to pay a woman's fine for driving without a ticket. She would have lost her job and home if she had been arrested. There was an arrest warrant, but he didn't want to execute it.

  • From the women's shelter to prison Part 2

    Another case from the women's shelter: a woman who fled to a women's shelter with her child because of domestic violence wrote to us. When she listened to the advice of her supporters and filed a complaint against her violent ex-partner, the police noticed that there was still an outstanding warrant for her arrest for driving without a ticket. She was then taken into custody. She had to leave her child at the women's shelter.

Many people share our demand

  • Portraitfoto von Raul Krauthausen

    “The majority of people who are in prison for not having tickets for buses and trains are suffering from psychological and social crises. We should not try to solve social problems through criminal law. The current legal situation exacerbates the problems of those affected and represents a severe cut in their biographies - their dignity. This must stop!”

    Raul Krauthausen, Inclusion activist and media maker from Berlin

  • Portraitfoto von Liv Lisa Fries

    “In two years, the Freedom Fund has bought the release of around one thousand people who were imprisoned for driving without a ticket. The substitute custodial sentence punishes indigent people disproportionately. The planned downgrading of driving without a ticket to an administrative offense is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough!”

    Liv Lisa Fries, Actress

  • Portraitfotos von Peter Biesenbach

    “It makes no sense if people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and therefore fare evasion [...] have to be locked up because they can't pay the costs.”

    Peter Biesenbach (CDU) Former Minister of Justice of NRW

  • Portraitfoto von Dr. Thomas Galli

    “The criminalization of driving without a ticket is disproportionate. Locking up homeless, unemployed, drug-addicted, sick and impoverished people to serve a substitute prison sentence for this is antisocial.”

    Dr. Thomas Galli, lawyer and former prison director

  • Portraitfoto von Ulrich Schneider

    “If you prosecute the use of public transport without a valid ticket as a criminal offense, you could just as easily do the same with parking. The whole thing is nonsense and should be abolished.”

    Ulrich Schneider, Managing Director of Deutscher Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband

  • Portraitfotos von Catherine Schöppen

    „Jährlich sitzen rund 7.000 Menschen in Haft, weil sie ohne Ticket gefahren sind. Diese sogenannten Ersatzfreiheitsstrafen kosten den Staat und damit den Steuerzahler übrigens einen dreistelligen Millionenbetrag – jedes Jahr.“

    Catherine Schöppen from FDP Köln

  • Portraitfotos von DJ Chino, Johnny und Johnny Strange

    “People going to prison for not having tickets must stop! Unfortunately, only a few people know about this grievance. Let's fight poverty and not the poor!”

    DJ Chino, Johnny & Johnny Strange, Singer of Culcha Candela

  • Portraitfoto von Hengameh Yaghoobifarah

    „Mobility is a key prerequisite for social participation. There are people who simply cannot afford the high ticket prices, but who still rely on buses and trains, for example to get to their doctor. If these people are criminalized and sent to prison for this reason, we can justifiably speak of discrimination against people affected by poverty.“

    Mobility expert, author and podcaster

  • Portraitfoto von Hengameh Yaghoobifarah

    “The fact that people are being prosecuted and imprisoned for not having tickets shows once again: the small ones are hanged, the big ones are let go. The paragraph is senseless and heartless and should be abolished.”

    Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, Author, journalist and DJ

Get out of jail free

  • Hand

    1. report to us

    Download this form and fill in name, file number, amount of sentence and date of arrest. Send the completed and signed form to.

  • Dokument

    2. submit documents

    We need an enforcement sheet, a criminal warrant or similar that makes it clear that it is driving without a ticket, and account information from the prosecutor's office or jail.

  • Geld

    3. collect money

    We will collect the money for your fine. Depending on the amount and the current donation status, it may take some time before we can help you. Please be patient.

  • Kasse

    4. pay in prison

    Once the money is collected, we pay the amount on the spot at the prison's payment office or transfer the amount.

  • Fröhliches Gesicht

    5. you come free

    After the money is paid, you can immediately leave the prison on the same day.

Sign our petitions

  • Already more than 120,000 signatures

    Zwei Polizisten verhaften eine Person in einer U-Bahn-Station

    No more jail for driving without a ticket

    With our petition we demand that driving without a ticket no longer leads to prison. In this way, 40 million euros in prison costs can be invested in cheaper social tickets! Please sign the petition so that Marco Buschmann finally acts.

    Sign petition

  • Already more than 60,000 signatures

    Innenaufnahme eines Gefängnis

    Poor people unjustly face twice as long in prison

    Because of IT problems, the halving of the prison time for poor people nationwide was postponed by 4 months. These people now have to spend twice as long in prison, contrary to the law. We demand pardons for all affected people!

    Sign petition

More Info

Several other initiatives and organizations work on riding without ticket and alternative custodial sentences.

  • Logo of the Bündnis zur Abschaffung der Ersatzfreiheitsstrafe

    Bündnis zur Abschaffung der Ersatzfreiheitsstrafe

    Part of the alliance are among others #BVGWeilWirUnsFürchten, EXIT-EnterLife e.V.,Ihr Seid Keine Sicherheit, Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie e.V., Tatort Zukunft e.V., AG Straße Linke Neuköln, BASTA Erwerbsloseninitiative, Kritische Jurist*innen der FU Berlin, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD-Bund) e.V.

    Visit organization

  • Logo of the Justice Collective

    Justice Collective

    The Justice Collective is a network of activists that connects international movements and actively works against surveillance, punishment, and deprivation of liberty - for a society that values justice over prisons.

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  • Logo of the Gefangenengewerkschaft


    The prisoners' union stands for solidarity among all imprisoned workers and the unemployed and demands, among other things, a minimum wage, pension insurance, continued payment of wages in the event of illness, and protection against dismissal.

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  • Logo of the Naturfreundejugend


    "Decongestion" group: Decongestion means the removal of prisons from society.

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  • Logo of the Berliner Obdachlosenhilfe

    Berliner Obdachlosenhilfe

    The Berliner Obdachlosenhilfe e.V. provides homeless and needy people with warm meals, clothing, sleeping bags and sleeping mats several times a week. They advise on doctors, emergency shelters, soup kitchens, rehab facilities, psychiatric clinics.

    Visit organization

  • Logo of the Lichtblick

    der lichtblick

    Lichtblick is Germany's largest-circulation, uncensored prisoner newspaper. It sees itself as a mouthpiece for prisoners: It draws attention to grievances and fights for a humane, socially responsible and knowledge-based penal system.

    Visit organization