“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Here is an injustice currently going on right under our nose…

New York City’s criminal justice system is messed up. At any given time, there are ~10,000 people incarcerated in New York City jails. 89% of them are Black or Latino. The vast majority of them have not been convicted of a crime. Instead, they’ve just been accused of a crime – most commonly a flimsy, non-violent crime of poverty, like public urination or jumping the subway turnstile.

If the accused person can’t afford to pay their bail, then they will be stuck in jail for the days, months or years that lead up to their actual trial, a period during which an incarcerated person cannot participate in their life. They can get fired from their job, get evicted from their apartment, and lose custody of their children. Instead, they spend their time in the hyper-violent and traumatizing environments of New York City jails, where they are at incredibly high risk of being involved in sexual or other forms of assault. These people are not dangerous criminals, and their incarceration doesn’t make our city more safe.

Infact, it get’s worse. Ever heard of the one dollar bail? Due to a tiny technical incompetence of the NYC criminal justice system’s archaic software, people are detained all the time in New York for just one dollar. Even if the accused person can afford to pay one dollar, they are not given the opportunity to pay their own bail. Stories like that of the Queens man who could have been free for the cost of a cup of coffee goes to show you how broken the system is.

In all, cash bail is a racist and poverty-criminalizing practice that denies people their constitutional right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. It robs the most vulnerable and oppressed New Yorkers of their freedom, their safety, their lives. It must be opposed by one and all.

Get involved by learning more about cash bail in the criminal justice system where you are and find out how you can help. These systems thrive because there is little or no public information to work with and a series of cumbersome steps involved to process the system. Learning about it and sharing your knowledge is your empowerment to injustice. Your little interest is the ripple of hope the world needs to become better. Do something today.

RFK Ripple of Hope Quote

 

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