Jay Z criticized the “exploitative” bail bond industry and “predatory lending schemes” aimed at the African-American community in a Father’s Day essay.
“If you’re from neighborhoods like the Brooklyn one I grew up in, if you’re unable to afford a private attorney, then you can be disappeared into our jail system simply because you can’t afford bail,” the rapper wrote for Time.
“Millions of people are separated from their families for months at a time — not because they are convicted of committing a crime, but because they are accused of committing a crime.”
Jay Z, who produced the docuseries Time: The Kalief Browder Story, writes that he “became obsessed with the injustice of the profitable bail bond industry” while researching Browder’s story.
“Kalief’s family was too poor to post bond when he was accused of stealing a backpack,” he wrote. “He was sentenced to a kind of purgatory before he ever went to trial. The three years he spent in solitary confinement on Rikers ultimately created irreversible damage that lead to his death at 22.”
The rapper recently applauded New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to shutter the Rikers Island prison facility.
Inspired by Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change‘s Mother’s Day efforts to bail out 100 incarcerated mothers, Jay Z is supporting similar efforts for those organizations “to bail out fathers who can’t afford the due process our democracy promises.”
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“This pre-incarceration conundrum is devastating to families. One in nine black children has an incarcerated parent. Families are forced to take on more debt, often in predatory lending schemes created by bail bond insurers,” the rapper continued.
“Every year $9 billion dollars are wasted incarcerating people who’ve not been convicted of a crime, and insurance companies, who have taken over our bail system, go to the bank.”