Unable to Afford Bail, Ramel Might Have Spent Years in Jail Awaiting Trial - The Bail Project Skip to main content

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Video Transcript

My understanding of time travel is, like, it’s mental. It’s more of, like, having patience. You could go back into a moment, kind of like a daydream. You’re taking time to go back. And then moving forward is when you like you’re, like, thinking ahead, your memories are ahead of time. You’re like, what am I gonna do next, so you’re moving forward in time. We all do it. We all got the capability, you know, to time travel.

It all started 2014 November, I had a little situation here in my building. I came to the aid of a friend. He was getting a ticket for having a beer. He was drinking. He was upset. I said, you know what, I’ll calm you down. I went to go get him a cigarette. So rode my bike to where they was located. The cop was just like, get outta here, move. So I got out the way, you know. Okay nice, man, surviving like always. What you need, just trimmed up? Yea, just even it up. Your cousin told me that you have some problems with the police, man. Yeah, I was on bail for two years for riding a bike on the sidewalk. Riding a bike? Riding a bike. You’re kidding me, brother. I’m not kidding. They tried to give me six months. It’s incredible, bro.

That happened in 2014. 2014, so it’s two years. Mhmm, they still got my bike locked up. I parked my bike and I’m sitting in front of the building on the steps. I’m checking my phone and I see four feet, the officer and his partner. He’s like, let me get your ID. I gave it to him He didn’t even look at the name or nothing, he just put in his pocket. “Get on the wall.” So now I’m standing up. I’m like “What did I do?” “You look at the ID, this is where I live.” I asked him again, I said, “What did I do?”

He called the 85, that means everybody come kick your ass. The whole precinct came. It took like 20 cars. I’m still trying to explain myself, like, I didn’t do anything. Nobody came to talk. Everybody came to fight. Everybody came to, like, grab me up. You know and I was just like the cop is wrong, and I ain’t gonna make him right by fighting, so I went, you know, willfully. When everything was all said and done I was charged with resisting arrest. I went to the arraignment, I see the judge, and my bail was five hundred dollars. That’s a lot of money in my neighborhood. You know, that’s rent money.

I said, “Look at my shoes Do you think I could pay bail?” I had holes in them. My lawyer was saying, do I have a job, am I working, do I have family? And I said no. I have none. I’m adopted. It was just me and my daughter. And I cried a tear. They asked for bail that I didn’t have, so now it’s like I’m a hostage. You know, so it’s like, if you don’t got the money, What you gonna take, community service? What you gonna take, six months? That’s how they had me.

So I’m just like yo, I’m stuck, I’m lost I felt like they just put me in a box and shipped me away and nobody knew. I wanted to call my daughter, but my mind was on dollars first, so my two phone calls, It was not to say, I love you. It was to call my friends to say, “Do you have any money?” And then you talking to the officers and they got no respect for you, because once you go past their doors you’re convicted already in their eyes. They’re like, you’re here. You’re a criminal. The way I understand it, our bodies is like 95% water, and what water does? It flows. It has no set direction. So the same way, like water freezes. You can put it in a cup, and it’ll take that form. You could put it in here, it’ll take the form of this whole bucket, one big solid piece. So wherever you go you gotta, like, know how to change for the environment. And that’s how humans are, we adapt.

I’m in jail and it’s like, you know, the underworld. It’s like, it’s different, life is different. I seen fights. I seen violence, a lot of violence. Days was going by and I was just sitting there and it’s more of a mental game now. It’s like you in a zoo. You behind these bars. They lock you up. I’m the animal in here and the DA will come to you with like a steak and you’ve been there seven days I didn’t eat nothing and they’re like, “Oh you want this steak?” Which is an offer, you know, plea deal. They say, “You take this steak, and you can leave.” How long am I going to hold on to my innocence, you know? How long am I gonna be like, you know what, I wanna go home? So I was kind of helpless like I was really, really, really feeling like there’s nobody here. I don’t know what to do. You know, I’m thinking about my kid, how I’m gonna get back to her, because she has me. I stay alive for her. And, I heard my name over the loudspeaker. They was calling people for bail. And when I heard my name, it was the happiest feeling in the world. Because I’m thinking that nobody even knows I’m here.

The Bronx Freedom Fund, they paid the bail. And that got me out. That got my life back going, you know, like it was. And I was just so happy because it was right before Thanksgiving. They give me hope back in society. When somebody helps you and nobody else was even thinking of you, you know? The case went on for two years, and it was dropped. It was dismissed. But if I didn’t get bailed out, I woulda sacrifice my freedom, I woulda been like, you know what, I did it. You know, just to get out. They didn’t take the bail off me so that means that I’d’ve been locked up for two years. I don’t know who has that much patience, at a time you might break down.

Without The Bronx Freedom Fund, I would not have had a case. I’d’ve had a record. I would have been wrong. I would have been guilty, just because of my finances. Justice is supposed to be blind. That’s how I see it.

Our criminal justice system is built on the presumption of innocence, the idea that people are “innocent until proven guilty.” But Ramel, who was trying to help a neighbor when officers arrested him and booked him in jail, was unable to afford bail, leaving him with two choices: plead guilty or sit in jail and await trial. Without our help, Ramel could have been held in jail for months or even years because of case processing delays. Situations like Ramel’s are why we are helping those in need and paying people’s bail.

Thank you for engaging with our content. People like you make a better world possible – a world where justice is not determined by someone’s wealth. The Bail Project is not only an immediate lifeline for people held on unaffordable cash bail, but a growing megaphone for public education and social change. If you have the means and found value in our content, please consider becoming a donor today.

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Director of Creative and Marketing

Shannon Soper

As the Director of Creative and Marketing, Soper oversees all aspects of The Bail Project’s marketing strategy and content development and is responsible for accelerating systems change through brand recognition and public education nationwide. Since joining the organization in 2018, she has driven web, video, and social media innovation, cultivating an in-house creative team and establishing the Creative and Marketing Department. Soper has over a decade of leadership in nonprofit strategic communications, having served as Communications Director at Dignity and Power Now and as College Campaigns Strategist for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). A champion for expanding access to digital assets for activists and movements, Soper founded her own company in 2016 to provide subsidized web development and creative multimedia to disadvantaged organizations. She began her advocacy career leading teams on the ground, furthering public awareness on large scale concert tours and creating institutional change at over 100 colleges and universities nationwide. Her public speaking, writing, photography, video, and web features have been featured by a wide range of outlets, including USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and NPR.