You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: End Cash Bail in New York.
Stealing a backpack shouldn’t be a death sentence. Kalief Browder’s death is an indictment on nearly every aspect of our jails and prison system.
We should — all of us — be taking this tragedy seriously, as Glenn Martin, president of Just Leadership USA explained to Aaron Morrison of International Business Times: “Ultimately, we are all collectively responsible for the death of Kalief, since our insidious criminal justice system exists in our name.”
The length of time Browder spent at Riker’s simply because he couldn’t post bail has surprised people. But if we’re supposedly all “innocent until proven guilty,” maybe the question shouldn’t be “Why was a 16-year-old expected to have $3,000 on hand for bail?” Instead, we should be asking, “Why do people pay for the privilege of waiting for their day in court at all?”
As the editorial staff for amNY explained in an op ed demanding bail reform, the NYC Independent Budget Office report found in 2011 that pretrial detainees make up 75% of the average daily jail population and nearly half were there because they couldn't post bail. Nationally, the numbers are six out of ten prisoners who are incarcerated in lieu of bail.
Cash bail is nothing more than punishment for the poor that benefits only the CEOs of private prison companies and their lobbyists.
Visit the Pretrial Justice Institute’s website — Pretrial.org — and click the banner for their petition with MoveOn titled "Gov Cuomo: End Cash Bail in New York.” Sign and share to encourage similar actions in other states and cities. Pretrial.org also has a great “Take Action” tab with local and national coalitions, an events calendar, and a page to submit your story.
Martin F. Horn — former commissioner of NYC's Department of Correction — closes his plea to prevent even one more Kalief Browder at The Marshall Project this way:
"It requires political courage for the city to address these issues and bring sanity to the jails. It will take money and leadership. There is no alternative, because our jails are a reflection of our collective conscience, and if they remain as they are, the fault is ours.”
Follow and support the work of The Bronx Freedom Fund
Follow and support the work of The Brooklyn Bail Fund
"After Kalief Browder's Death, Prison Reform Advocates Say NYC Rikers Island Abuses Must Not Produce More ‘Martyrs’” by Aaron Morrison at The International Business Times
"Bail reform can help fix NYC criminal justice” by the Editorial Staff at AM New York
Hear the segment in context:
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich