Culture , News & Politics

There's an App to Help People Who Can't Afford Their Bail

If the story of Kalief Browder taught us anything, it’s that bail bonds basically punish people for being poor.

In late October, techie, scholar and activist Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler introduced the app Appolition, designed to automatically donate change from purchases toward an incarcerated person’s bail fund.

Gizmodo illustrated the app’s function: “Tied to your bank account, the app would, for example, donate the remaining 20 cents to a bail relief organization when you buy something for $1.80.”

It’s essentially an effortless GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaign for bail relief.

“The model has been proven for change ‘round up’ apps,” Ziegler told Gizmodo. “I thought it would be great if that model [could be used] for getting folks to rally around incarcerated Black people,” Ziegler said. “Why not marry those two together and make something that is open source and useful and can be applicable to focusing on helping folks [make] bail. There’s instances of people where sometimes bail is really low, like $200, and they have to stay in jail for months. And that’s not okay.”

The New York Post reported that in 2016, there was an average of 3,931 men and women incarcerated in the city’s jails simply because they couldn’t pay their bail. For Mother’s Day, Black Lives Matter raised over $500,000 for the release of incarcerated mothers in what was deemed National Mamas Bailout Day.

“One of my parents is incarcerated, so I think a number of Black Americans deal with that on an intimate level,” Ziegler continued. “But also, trans folks in particular are victims of incarceration and not being able to afford bail when they are arrested for alleged crimes.”

Appolition’s use of the “round up” method of utilizing people’s leftover coins as donations will make it easier for everyday folks to reverse the effects of mass incarceration.

“People want to help, but they sorta fall short with some initiatives,” Ziegler continued. “Some things become paternalistic and things like that. I really hope that the [publicity around] what’s happening with the app is going to boost the work that’s already being done by amazing people.”