Jay Z Publishes Time Op-Ed Calling for Reform of ‘Exploitative’ Bail Industry

Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Spike

In a Time op-ed published Friday afternoon, Jay Z calls out the bail industry for unfairly penalizing poor people, especially poor people of color, for not having the resources necessary to be released from jail while awaiting trial. “On any given day over 400,000 people, convicted of no crime, are held in jail because they cannot afford to buy their freedom,” he writes. “When black and brown people are over-policed and arrested and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper.”

Jay Z points to his experience producing Spike’s docuseries Time: The Kalief Browder Story for fueling his stance against the bail industry. (Browder was famously held for three years in New York’s Rikers Island prison, much of the time in solitary confinement, without a trial; he later committed suicide at the age of 22.) On Mother’s Day, Jay Z explains, organizations like Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change raised bail money for mothers in jail prior to their trials. “This Father’s Day, I’m supporting those same organizations to bail out fathers who can’t afford the due process our democracy promises,” he concludes. “As a father with a growing family, it’s the least I can do, but philanthropy is not a long fix, we have to get rid of these inhumane practices altogether.”

Jay Z Calls for Reform of ‘Exploitative’ Bail Industry