A Dollar Makes A Difference

As a member of Robert F. Kennedy Young Leaders, I have been inspired and encouraged to take action. I joined RFK Young Leaders because I wanted to work with a group of like-minded individuals who utilize their skills and talents to create social change. RFK Young Leaders has helped me join movements like the Dollar Bail Brigade, a rapid response coalition committed to posting bail for those who are held in jail for just a dollar.

When I was an inner-city school teacher, I witnessed the impact mass incarceration had on my students and their families.I believe our criminal justice system violates people’s rights and creates an impossible path to re-entry. Even with the abundant resources compiled by DBB, navigating the system is still complicated and confusing.

One day, I received an alert that a client was being detained on his birthday. I immediately jumped at the chance to help. I went to the Manhattan Detention Complex to post bail and needed to wait a few hours as they filed the paperwork. Eventually, I discovered the client was transferred to Rikers Island. I would need to wait until he was relocated and processed, then I could bail him out. I left the detention center and went home, frustrated with the system and disappointed this man was spending his birthday at Rikers.

The next morning, he was still not ready to be released so I went to the Brooklyn Detention Center and waited. I sat in the small waiting room and watched as families with children came and waited to post bail for their loved ones. After a few hours in Brooklyn, the paperwork was finalized and I was able to sign my name, submit a dollar, and release a man from prison. When I signed the final paperwork, I discovered his court date was my birthday. I am not sure if the dollar bail was my gift to him or if the exposure to the inadequacy of the penal system was his gift to me, but either way I know we both gained something meaningful that day.

Learn more about the Dollar Bail Brigade here.