Rights Group Plans Mass Bailout at NYC’s Rikers Island

More than 500 women and teenagers will be bailed out from New York City’s Rikers Island jail as part of a national campaign to dismantle a bail system that activists say discriminates against minorities and the poor. The effort is being spearheaded by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group, which plans to raise $5 million to fund the releases.

More than 500 women and teenagers will be bailed out from New York City’s Rikers Island jail as part of a national campaign to dismantle a bail system that activists say discriminates against minorities and the poor, the New York Times reports. The effort is spearheaded by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group, which plans to raise at least $5 million to fund the releases. While there have been other mass bailouts, organizers believe the effort at Rikers has the potential to be one of the largest ever. “The crux of the issue is that in New York City, we criminalize poverty,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “There are no wealthy people on Rikers Island because if you are wealthy, you go free because you make bail.”

Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced support for a plan to close Rikers Island, which is plagued by violence and poor conditions, after an independent commission recommended that the city replace Rikers with smaller jails spread throughout the boroughs. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will not make bail decisions based on the crimes that an individual has been charged with, Kennedy said. Anyone who is eligible for bail is a candidate for assistance. “If a judge feels this person is a danger to society, they will not make them bail eligible,” Kennedy said. Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, questioned whether Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights would “take responsibility if these people commit another crime while out on bail.” The initiative ignores the concerns of crime victims and would place the public in danger, he added.

from https://thecrimereport.org