This App Converts Your Spare Change Into Bail Money For Black Prison Inmates

Handcuffed Prisoner

This App Converts Your Spare Change Into Bail Money For Black Prison Inmates

Use your extra money for a good cause.

Published December 1, 2017

Mass incarceration has been an American issue for a very long time. Unfortunately, as time passes it only gets worse. According to research published by the International Center for Prison Studies, the number of people incarcerated in America has jumped from 500,000 to over 2.2 million between 1980 and 2015.

These statistics are even more horrific for Black people, who are disproportionately jailed on the daily. Meek Mill's highly debated prison sentence for violating probation is a prime example of Black people receiving criminal punishments that are harsher than those of other races.

The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit advocating for criminal justice reform, published a study looking at incarceration rates for ethnic groups in every state.

Using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, here are some of the most alarming findings:

  • African-Americans are incarcerated at 5.1 times the rate of whites in state prisons.
  • Five states — Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wisconsin — have a disparity of more than 10 to 1.
  • Twelve states have prison populations that were more than half Black: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
  • Maryland has a prison population that's 72 percent Black.
  • In 11 states, at least 1 in 20 adult African-American men are in prison.

(Photo: Business Insider)
(Photo: Business Insider)

These statistics are beyond heartbreaking and certainly affect the Black community in unimaginable ways. Looking to reduce the overflow of Black people in prisons, Compton-born social engineer, Kortney Ziegler created Appolition. The app allows users to directly turn their spare change into bail money for Black incarcerated men and women.

Ziegler, a PhD recipient who is now based in Oakland, explained that a July tweet proposing the idea gained traction which inspired him to fully pursue the concept. Along with his co-founder Tiffany Mikell, Ziegler created a landing page where hundreds signed up and pledged their help toward building the platform.

"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," Kortney revealed to Konbini.

The pair partnered for a formal launch with two Black founders in Atlanta who have experience building crowdfunding software.

How does it work, you ask? Simple. In less than 60 seconds you can connect the account you use to make everyday purchases to the app and it will round your purchases up to the nearest dollar to automatically donate each time you reach at least $2 in spare change. Users are free to pause and resume their contributions at any moment.

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

Aside from, Ziegler oversees the non-profit ZaMFunds which identifies talented but financially 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.

Written by Yakira Young

(Photo: Erika Kyte/Getty Images)


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