Jay Z has a lot on his plate this weekend. Not only is he celebrating Father's Day with his daughter Blue Ivy, but he's reportedly welcomed two new babies into the world, too. Nevertheless, Jay's personal life hasn't stopped him from speaking out about an issue he feels passionate about: reforming the United States bail system.
In an op-ed for Time, Jay describes "the injustice of the profitable bail bond industry" and says that every day, over 400,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime are incarcerated simply because they can't afford bail.
An investigation into Rikers Island prison in New York City found that the majority of people incarcerated there were locked up because they couldn't afford to pay their bail. In half those cases, the amount of money needed was $5,000 or less.
Jay Z wrote, "When black and brown people are over-policed and arrested and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper. This pre-incarceration conundrum is devastating to families."
He added, "One in 9 black children has an incarcerated parent. Families are forced to take on more debt, often in predatory lending schemes created by bail bond insurers. Or their loved ones linger in jails, sometimes for months—a consequence of nationwide backlogs."
A 2015 report from the Ella Baker Center found that the cost of maintaining contact with incarcerated family members led more than one in three families into debt to pay for phone calls and visits alone. Family members who were not able to talk or visit with their loved ones regularly were much more likely to report experiencing negative health impacts related to a family member’s incarceration, like symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Inspired by the Mama's Day Bail Out organized by Southerners on New Ground and Black Lives Matter, Jay says he is donating money to those organizations for the purpose of bailing out fathers so they can be with their children on Father's Day. On Mother's Day, over 100 moms were able to spend the day with their families and communities as a result of the bail out.
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