Criminal Justice and Immigration

The U.S. criminal legal system is fundamentally flawed. By design, it’s structured to punish the poor and powerless under the guise of public safety, caging millions of people each year. At Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, we work with frontline advocates to dismantle the mass criminalization pipeline by reducing the scale, scope, and power of these racist and unequal systems.

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Our Partnership Approach

Modeling Robert Kennedy’s solidarity approach, we partner with those most directly impacted by the prison industrial complex who are on the frontlines of social change. By working together, we bring unique visibility to grassroots initiatives and build demand for reform where it’s needed most.

Demanding Police Accountability

RFK Human Rights, along with the ACLU, Howard University, Mothers Against Police Brutality, the Movement for Black Lives, and others, testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, calling for the U.S. to take concrete steps towards reparations for the countless Black Americans killed and injured by the police.

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Stopping Pretrial Racism

In solidarity with the Committee Against Pretrial Racism, a grassroots movement in California, RFK Human Rights successfully opposed a dangerous ballot measure from being passed in the state, one that would have automated racial profiling and granted judges unchecked power.

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Using Technology to Improve the Criminal Legal System

Our partnership with Uptrust, a start-up software company, provides a practical, nonpunitive alternative to cash bail, sending text messages to remind people to keep their court appointments. People avoid jail time and taxpayers save money. This simple solution reduced the rate of failure to appear in court by 70% in Palm Beach County, Fla.

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Mobilizing Everyday People to Take Action

With help from hundreds of local volunteers, including rapper and activist Common, RFK Human Rights’ broad coalition freed more than 100 people from New York’s Rikers Island who were jailed on unaffordable money bail. As one of the largest single bailouts in history, the effort generated unprecedented public demand for bail reform in New York State and helped pass landmark legislation in Albany the following year.

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“To know that our work with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has brought even a measure of relief to our siblings helps to inspire me to keep fighting alongside others for the liberation of our people.”

Colin Kaepernick, Founder of Know Your Rights Camp

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