City officials are scrambling to prepare for a human rights organization’s mass effort to bail out 500 women and teenagers from the Rikers Island jail complex, despite strong resistance from the police and prosecutors.
Across the city, prosecutors are identifying cases that might be affected by the bailout, and calling hundreds of crime victims and witnesses in those cases to let them know that defendants who they thought were in custody might soon be released on bail.
Prosecutors in the Bronx said they were working to safeguard as many people who might be vulnerable through measures like orders of protection.
“We are doing all we can to protect our victims and witnesses in the event the defendants accused of violence against them are released from jail,” Darcel D. Clark, the Bronx district attorney, said in a statement.
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group is raising up to $5 million for the bailout, and will enlist 200 volunteers to help identify and free female prisoners at the Rose M. Singer Center, and 16- and 17-year-olds at the Robert N. Davoren Complex, starting Oct. 1.
Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, says the plan, which organizers believe could be one of the largest so-called mass bailouts in the country, will move forward despite the city’s concerns.
The bailout is designed to support an end to cash bail, which activists say discriminates against minorities and the poor, and to push the city to close the dangerous Rikers jail complex more quickly than the current 10-year timeline. Approximately 87 percent of the jail population is black and Latino.