Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice through the release from prison of older and aging people and those serving long and life sentences. The number of people aged 50 and older in New York State, where RAPP was founded, doubled after 2000; when we began our work it totaled 10,000—about 20% of the total NYS prison population. 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. Read our basic fact sheet on ways to fight for the release of aging people; by fighting for these changes we have contributed to the reduction in the NYS elder prison population so that it now hovers a bit over 8,000. RAPP is a leading member of the People’s Campaign for Parole Justice, advocating for structural changes to decarcerate aging people from the NYS prison system. See the People’s Campaign for Parole Justice platform HERE.
Co-founded and first led by the late Mujahid Farid, a 2013 Soros Justice Fellow who served 33 years in New York State prisons before his release in 2011, RAPP focuses on aging people behind bars, many of whom are longtermers convicted of serious crimes. Most of these women and men have transformed their lives and developed profound skills and abilities. They could be released from prison and would enhance public safety through mentoring and contributions to their communities. 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.
Today, Jose Hamza Saldaña is Director of RAPP. Jose was released from NYS prison in January 2018 after 38 years and four Parole Board denials.
While in prison, Jose earned an Associate’s Degree and founded several important restorative justice and victim awareness programs. He mentored hundreds of men during his years inside and continues to inspire all of us with his energy, commitment, and leadership.
We belong to a national network of groups, including the Sentencing Project, working to end life incarceration and perpetual punishment. We subscribe to a set of principles drafted by that group, ensuring that any reforms of the system are meaningful and do not benefit some people at the expense of others.
Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP is an independent grassroots organizing and policy project. We are proud and grateful to be supported by:
• Abelard Foundation – East •
• Ben & Jerry’s Foundation •
• Brooklyn Community Foundation Elders Fund •
• Circle for Justice Innovations •
• Elsie P. Van Buren Foundation •
• Emergent Fund •
• Fund for the City of New York •
• FWD.us •
• Galaxy Gives •
• National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls •
• New York Community Trust •
• New York Foundation •
• North Star Fund •
• Open Society Foundation •
• Resource Generation •
• Sills Family Foundation •
• Sonya Staff Foundation •
• Sparkplug Foundation •
• Vital Projects Fund •
• individual donors from the community •
• We welcome all donations •
RAPP challenges a fundamental pillar of mass incarceration: reliance on a system of permanent punishment, a racist culture of retribution and revenge rather than rehabilitation and healing. We mobilize currently and formerly incarcerated people, their families, and other concerned community members. From this powerful base we work to raise public awareness about the destructiveness of mass incarceration and the benefits to society in releasing aging people, including those convicted of violent crimes. We promote the use of key mechanisms for release, such as parole, compassionate release, clemency, and policy changes. Our goal is to dismantle the racist punishment system.
Get Involved in Our Work:
Join our e-list for updates on our work, events you can attend, and more: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact RAPP: 168 Canal St., 6th Floor, NY NY 10013, (631) 885-3565; email@example.com
Come to a NY RAPP Coalition meeting – the first Wednesday of every month at 6:00 pm • virtually or at 168 Canal St., 6th Floor, NY NY 10013 (click here for more events)
• LEARN how RAPP advocates for the NYS legislature to pass laws for the release of elders, and how Parole Commissioners are chosen and approved.