Mass Bail Out of Hundreds of NYC Prisoners Begins

    On October 1, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) and a coalition of grassroots organizations launched Mass Bail Out, a project created to post money bail for approximately 500 women and 16- and 17-year-old youths currently jailed on Rikers Island and the South Bronx’s Horizon Juvenile Center, respectively.

    In the late morning of October 1, Kerry Kennedy, the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, paid the first round of bail at the Brooklyn Detention Complex to free a group of people—the exact number remains unspecified—from Rikers’s Rose M. Singer Center jail and Horizon Juvenile Center.

    In contrast to past bailouts that have focused on “low-level” offenses, Kennedy officials said, via The New York Times, that “all bail-eligible women and teenagers regardless of the crime they are charged with” were considered for inclusion in the Mass Bail Out that draws from nearly $5 million raised by RFKHR.

    The action seeks to demonstrate the unjustness of cash bail, and that Rikers Island can be closed much sooner than the ten-year closure deadline set by Mayor Bill de Blasio in his June 2017 proposal. Days before the start of the Mass Bail Out, teenagers under the age of 18 were transferred from Rikers’s Robert N. Davoren Complex (RNDC) to the Horizon Juvenile Center because of an October 1 deadline set by New York States’ “Raise the Age” law, which requires that youth be held in “detention centers,” where they can access “age-appropriate services,” instead of adult jails. 

    Once people are freed from the jail or detention facility, a mobile response unit of volunteers will be waiting, ready to support the individual, their family, and their community, according the project’s website. Additionally, the Mass Bail Out organizers have recruited “peer navigators” to help those returning home navigate reentry, “including managing subsequent court dates.”

    The large-scale bail posting was inspired by other recent bailouts, like Black Mama’s Bailouts, the Believers Bail Out, and the Faith in Texas Black August Bail Out. Once the bail out is completed, RFKHR and the coalition will “continue to put pressure on those who can get rid of this unjust practice: our District Attorneys, the City, and State.”

    Image: Via Kerry Kennedy

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