A Kennedy family charity intends to spend millions to bail out women and minors from New York City jails, The New York Post reported on Tuesday, citing law enforcement sources.
In a move to promote jail reform, Robert. F. Kennedy Human Rights reportedly could free several hundred defendants eligible for bail from lockups such as Rikers Island, The Tombs and other facilities as early as Monday.
Sources said the foundation has $5 million to fund the campaign. They added that at least 231 women in city jails are currently eligible for bail but less than 100 teenagers would qualify.
The plan was slammed by law enforcement reps, who argued it trivialized the severity of crimes committed and diminished any incentive for defendants to show up in court.
“If a high bail is set, that means the police and DA feel strongly that they committed the crime; that they will probably serve some kind of criminal sentence; and lastly they would be a flight risk,” said one high-ranking officer, according to the Post.
The Robert. F. Kennedy foundation has collaborated with experts to free political prisoners and “defended the rule of law in autocratic regimes and amplified the voices of human rights defenders in the United States and abroad,” according to its website.
At the core of the foundation’s advocacy is bail reform, which was reflected in its move to free 17-year-old Pedro Hernandez, arrested and accused of shooting a fellow teen, on $100,000 bail, according to a media release.
Commenting on the latest bail-out initiative, Mayor Bill De Blasio’s spokeswoman, Natalie Grybauskas, noted that a specific plan had not been received, but she said the city supported “any effort that focuses on bail assistance for low-level offenders who don’t pose a public-safety risk,” the Post reported.
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