Freiheitsfonds - Freedom Day

April 10, 2024

Support the Freedom Day!

April 10 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

Our beautiful Germany

Cities and local authorities are already leading the way and showing that it is possible to waive charges for missing tickets. But what we need now is not a small-scale approach, but a solution with a broad impact. That is why Marco Buschmann must finally act now.

  • 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".

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Get out of jail free

Freedom Fund in the press

Sign our petitions

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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