Target: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Goal: End cash bailouts in New York jails and bring innocent inmates in poverty back to freedom.
Six out of ten people in American jails have not been convicted of a crime. Many people charged in New York specifically spend months or years in jail waiting for trial. The conditions of these jails are often unspeakable and can severely traumatize innocent inmates if they are forced to stay there too long. Kalief Browder was 16 years old when he was charged with stealing a backpack at his school and stayed for three years in Riker’s Island prison waiting for trial, spending over 400 days in solitary confinement. His only other crime was being unable to afford the $3,000 bail. On June 6th, 2015, Browder committed suicide. His lawyer claims it was caused by the trauma he experienced in jail.
Kalief Browder was not the only one who has suffered from cash bailouts. Public defenders say that many innocent people without the proper funds are pleading guilty just to get out of jail. And it’s commonly known that being convicted of a crime or felony causes serious setbacks in finding employment. The New York prosecution system as a whole is dyfunctional, and until it is fixed the cash bail option must be removed.
Dear Governor Cuomo,
I demand that the cash bailout option be removed from your prisons and prosecutions until the trial system is better managed It is not acceptable for innocent people to be sitting in jail for years at a time simply because they are poor. Kalief Browder was jailed at sixteen years old for stealing a backpack at school and stayed on Riker’s Island for three years awaiting trial because his family could not afford the $3,000 bail. Prior to his release, he committed suicide because of the trauma he experienced in captivity. This devastating loss of life, among the damage to other citizens just like Kelief, could have easily been prevented if the cash bailout system was not discriminatory against citizens in poverty.
There of course are other options than sitting in captivity. Many public defenders claim that a lot of poor people charged with crimes they did not commit are pleading guilty simply so they do not have to stay in jail for the indefinite amount of time until their trial. This not only damages the credibility of public court, but it leaves citizens with false felony charges on their record that prevents them from going on to employment and becoming a contributing member of New York society. Please remove the option of cash bail and stop this injustice from damaging the court system and hurting your citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Barbara Rosner