Largest mass bailout in history releases hundreds from Rikers
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK) Foundation, led by Kerry Kennedy, started a month-long mission to bail out hundreds of women and juveniles at Rikers Island. It’s become the largest mass bailout in history. Cash bail reform is a controversial issue within the larger scope of criminal justice. Currently, many cities and states are working to end the cash bail system as it criminalizes poverty and excuses the alleged offenses of those who can afford it.
“And the only reason they’re there is they can’t afford to make bail,” Kerry Kennedy told VICE News about the people bailed out. “You know, in this country, if you live in poverty, you lose your right to be innocent until proven guilty. And that’s really what we’re trying to address.”
Mass bailouts work to subvert this injustice by releasing inmates who have not been convicted but are still imprisoned because they can’t afford it on their own. Since Rikers Island only allows one person to pay bail twice a month, the RFK foundation recruited over 200 volunteers to make their project happen.
When asked by VICE News how they choose prisoners for their program, Carrie Twig, a public engagement strategist, responds, “We don’t. They choose. So, we have system data that we are willing to post bail for anyone who is eligible. And we have talked to folks on the island, and those who opt-in, we will do what we can.”
Even though this is RFK’s first mass bailout, it has been bailing out individuals for past years.