This App Lets You Bail Out Black Prison Inmates with Your Spare Change

It's no secret that America has a startling issue when it comes to mass incarceration. According to research published by the International Centre for Prison Studies,  the number of people incarcerated in America increased from 500,000 to over 2.2 million between 1980 and 2015.  Today, the United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population and holds a staggering 21% of the world’s prisoners.

Unfortunately, these statistics are even more daunting  when it comes to the disproportionate amount of blacks jailed each day. 

While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. 1 in every 15 African American men is currently incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.

To help visualize this data, understand India is a country of 1.2 Billion people with a total of only around 380,000 prisoners. There are more African American men incarcerated in the U.S. than the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England, combined.

This staggering statistics effect the black community in unimaginable ways. Aside from families being torn apart, financial burdens weigh down those already struggling to get by.

With the knowledge that United States prisons are disproportionately overflowing with black and poor people, Compton-born social engineer Kortney Ziegler sought to create Appolition.us– an app that allows users to directly convert their spare change into bail money for black incarcerated men and women. Speaking to Konbini, Ziegler explains:

"I was inspired by the work of National Bail Out and their work in bringing together black led community bail funds to provide relief for black folks who needed support."

Ziegler, a PhD recipient now based in Oakland, explains that a July tweet proposing the app idea gained traction, inspiring him to pursue the concept in a real way. Along with his co-founder Tiffany Mikell, Ziegler created a landing page for the project where hundreds signed up to pledge their help towards building the platform. 

Connecting with two black founders in Atlanta experienced in building crowdfunding software, they partnered together for a formal launch. 

The function of the app is simple: In lessthan 60 seconds, connect the account you use to make everyday purchases. Here, your purchases will be rounded up to the nearest dollar to automatically donate each time you reach at least $2 in spare change. Users can pause and resume their contributions at any time. On the topic of his goals with the project, Ziegler explains:

"Our short term goals are to get as many folks home for the holidays as possible so we hope many folks join the platform for Giving Tuesday and contribute their holiday spending change to those in need.

Long term, we see the platform being used in a variety of ways to bolster the voices of those in need beyond just a financial contribution."

Aside from Appolition.us, Ziegler oversees the non-profit ZaMFunds which identifies and awards talented, yet financially hard-pressed, female students in Livingstone, Zambia with a three-year scholarship to attend private secondary school.  

He also co-founded Trans*H4CK, a platform that helps trans, gender non-conforming, agender and non-binary people by creating technology that economically empowers them, improving access to social services and promoting gender safety and community sustainability.

While Appolition.us is another towering extension of Ziegler's contributions towards aiding marginalized people, he knows it's a small step towards bringing light and hope to the trying effects mass incarceration presents. 

"Although bail relief via an app isn't the perfect solution to true abolishment of the prison industrial complex, being able to provide a tiny dent in the system along the way is always important. Supporting the work that prison abolitionists are already doing, is my contribution."

You can learn more about Appolition.us and its mission by visiting them online. 

By Kimberly B. Johnson, published on 28/11/2017