New York, NY – On Wednesday, September 18th, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights announced a large scale Mass Bail Out Action at New York’s Rikers Island. The Mass Bail Out Action is a collaborative effort made up of grassroots groups and formerly incarcerated people to free women and young people in New York City who are jailed because they cannot afford to post bail. The action, which will begin October 1st and continue throughout the month, has organized over 200 volunteers who will pay bail at one of New York City’s five jails or volunteer at a 24-hour community mobile response unit.
The Mass Bail Out Action will focus on two jails at Rikers Island: the Rose M. Singer Center (RMSC), which cages women awaiting trial; and the Robert N. Davoren Complex (RNDC), where minors are held in custody. On average, 500 women and 100 minors on any given day endure neglect, abuse and isolation – never knowing when freedom will come – all because they cannot afford the price set on their freedom. The large-scale bailout will result in dramatic drop in Rikers’ population at two distinct jails and serve as an opportunity to close the jails of Rikers Island and reimagine justice – starting with investing in communities harmed by these generational practices.
New York City has a broken criminal justice system. We see its deep flaws in the discriminatory and demeaning bail system that turns poverty into a crime, and targets people of color. No one should be caged just because they cannot afford the ransom price of their own freedom. While wealthier New Yorkers are set free, women and children, children 16 and 17 years old, are jailed -many for less than $1,000 - simply because they cannot make bail,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The Mass Bail Out is an opportunity to shine a light on the injustices of our bail system not only in New York City, but across the country.”
Currently, the bail system unjustly targets and punishes poor, black and brown people. The result is a jail population overwhelming made up of people experiencing poverty. In New York City alone, African American and Latino people make up 90 percent of the city’s jail population, but only slightly more than half of the general population.
The Mass Bail Out Action is inspired by the movement to end bail nationwide, which includes bail out actions by dozens of local bail and immigrant bond funds and campaigns, as well as national initiatives such as the Mama’s Day Black Love Bail Out and others. These actions are rooted in the resistance deployed by enslaved people to free their loved ones and organized bail outs of civil rights leaders and protesters arrested for their activism.
About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has advocated for a more just and peaceful world since 1968. We work alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations. Whether in the United States or abroad, our programs have pursued justice through strategic litigation on key human rights issues, educated millions of children in human rights advocacy and fostered a social good approach to business and investment.