Nonprofit Combats Racial Disparity in the Bail System

Kyra Harvey knows that change doesn’t happen without putting in the work, which is why she’s passionate about her job at The Bail Project. This nonprofit organization pays bail for people in need, allowing many to return to and continue supporting their families. For Kyra, it’s about giving people the resources they need to make a better life.

“I want to be here, and I want to help my community,” Kyra shares. “I want to be a part of change, and I want that more than anything.”

Video Transcript

Meet Kyra: bail activist

(footage of Kyra and others marching in a protest)

Kyra Harvey: It’s been a lot of learning and reading and educating myself, not only about why I’m specifically doing Black Lives Matter work but what laws we can change while we’re doing this, what policies that we can change. 

Indianapolis, Indiana

(Kyra walking into her office, speaking on the phone) My name is Kyra, I’m with The Bail Project. Have you heard of us before?

Speaker 2: This is actually the first time I’ve heard about it.

Kyra: Yeah.

So The Bail Project is a national nonprofit organization. We post bond for people that can’t afford it. Basically, how the cash bail system works, if you can’t afford to get out, you can’t bail yourself out. They use that as a way for people to show up to court.

Interviewer: So, you’re accused of a crime.

Kyra: Yeah.

Interviewer: They set the bond.

Kyra: Yep.

Interviewer: And you can’t pay it.

Kyra: Yep.

Interviewer: So what happens?

Kyra: Sit in there. (laughs) That’s exactly what happens. You sit in there until you’re able to pay it. Some of my clients, their cases got dismissed because they didn’t do the crime. It sucks because we have the system that’s innocent until proven guilty. How could somebody prove they’re innocent if they’re sitting in jail?

95% of those bailed out by this project faithfully show up to their trial. 1 in 4 have their cases dismissed.

This is a resource fair for people who are experiencing homelessness. The Bail Project’s here to help people with warrants and to give them assistance if they know anybody that is sitting in jail in pre-trial and has a cash bond. Some of the Black men that are in jail are the breadwinners of their family. So when they lose that father figure or the breadwinner of the family, then who’s going to pay rent? Who’s going to pay bills? Who’s going to do this?

My dad did have a drug problem when I was younger. With him going to jail, he lost touch with his family for years. I grew up in poverty and my mom — not having another parent or somebody else that can help you out with your children, it can put a strain on family. It does.

Kyra also helps her clients connect to resources for transportation, jobs, and addiction recovery.

Angela Davis said, “Prisons don’t get rid of problems, they get rid of humans.” We never get into the root of the problem. We never get to the why. That’s why people go back to jail. It’s just a cycle that keeps repeating itself, over and over. Until we give the people the access and the resources, it’s going to continue.

(Speaking on the phone) Then the next step for me to do is to call your contacts. If everything checks out, we can post your bond. Sound good?

Speaker 2: Yes, ma’am. It sounds great.

Kyra: This is what I want to do. I want to be here, and I want to help my community. I want to see my community be better. I want to be a part of change, and I want that more than anything.

Crowd of marchers: McHale Rose!

Kyra: Say his name.

Crowd: McHale Rose!

Kyra: Say his name.

Crowd: McHale Rose!

Kyra: Say his name.

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