Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by getting elderly and infirm people out of prison. The number of people aged 50 and older in New York State, where RAPP was founded, has doubled since 2000; it now exceeds 10,000—about 20% of the total incarcerated population (“The Crisis”). This reflects a national crisis in the prison system and the extension of a culture of revenge and punishment into all areas of our society.
Led by Mujahid Farid, a 2013 Soros Justice Fellow who was incarcerated for 33 years in New York before his release in 2011, RAPP focuses on aging people in prison, many of whom are long-termers convicted of serious crimes. Many of these human beings have transformed their lives and developed skills and abilities they lacked before incarceration. They could be released from prison with little or no threat to public safety. Yet many are denied release, often for political reasons, and they needlessly remain imprisoned into old age. These elders could return to their communities if current mechanisms such as parole and compassionate release were correctly utilized. We also support legislation in New York to correct the parole system and increase the number of releases.
We are part of a loose national network of groups, including the Sentencing Project, that focuses on transformation of the US prison system. We subscribe to a set of principles drafted by members of that national group, ensuring that any reforms of the system are meaningful and do not benefit some people at the expense of hurting others. We work in solidarity with many sectors. One of our most recent and critical partnerships is with the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, current and former members of law enforcement whose goal is “advancing justice and public safety solutions.”
Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP is an independent grassroots organizing and policy project. We are proud and grateful to be supported by:
• Sparkplug (sparkplugfoundation.org)
• New York Foundation (nyf.org)
• NorthStar Fund (northstarfund.org)
• New York Community Trust (nycommunitytrust.org)
• Calamus Foundation (thecalamusfoundation.org)
• Criminal Justice Initiative/CJI (criminaljusticeinitiative.org)
• Center for Community Change (communitychange.org)
• A.J. Muste Memorial Institute (ajmuste.org)
• Ben & Jerry’s Foundation (benandjerrysfoundation.org)
• individual donors from the community
RAPP aims to establish a parole process that is transparent, all inclusive, and fair, with parole decisions based on public safety risk and individuals’ demonstrated personal growth while in prison. Such a process would reduce the soaring population of incarcerated elders.
We seek fair and objective hearings for everyone who comes before the Parole Board. We will not try to expand release opportunities for certain classes of offenses by denying opportunities for others. Instead, we insist that decisions be made on each person’s individual merits and experiences inside. This principle allows RAPP to challenge a fundamental pillar of mass incarceration: reliance on a system of permanent punishment, a culture of retribution and revenge rather than rehabilitation and healing.
The RAPP Campaign mobilizes currently and formerly incarcerated people, their families, and other concerned community members. From this united base and through the RAPP Coalition, we work alongside other prison justice advocates to (1) raise public awareness about the destructiveness of mass incarceration and the benefits to society in releasing aging people, including those convicted of violent crimes who do not threaten public safety; and (2) promote the use of key mechanisms for releasing elderly people, such as parole, compassionate release, and policy changes.
Join our e-list for updates on our work, events you can attend, and more: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact RAPP: c/o Correctional Association of NY, 22 Cortlandt St., 33rd Fl., New York, NY 10007; (646) 793-9082 Ext. 1014; email@example.com
Take action with RAPP: Sign our petition to release aging people in prison in New York
FOLLOW us on Twitter @RAPPCampaign • DONATE to support RAPP’s work
To volunteer or start a RAPP Chapter, see sidebar
Come to a RAPP Coalition meeting: The NY RAPP Coalition meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:00 pm at the Correctional Association of NY, 22 Cortlandt St., 33rd Fl., New York, NY 10007 (click here for more events)