Earlier this week, we reported on a Bronx teen named Pedro Hernandez who was incarcerated on Rikers Island. Like Kalief Browder, many believe Pedro was locked up on fugazi charges and suffered the same kind of torment. His family just could not afford his $100,000 bail. Notice, we wrote “was locked up.” That’s because, thanks to nonprofit organization the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group, Pedro’s bail has been paid and he was reunited with his family.
Pedro has maintained his innocence throughout year-long stay on “The Island.” According to the New York Daily News, “Hernandez is facing charges of criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm, assault and reckless endangerment in connection with a 2015 shooting outside a Bronx bodega.” He has also been indicted on robbery charges. However, a number of witnesses and the victims have said that it was not Pedro who fired the shots. Nevertheless, Pedro sat on Rikers for 13 months, where he finished high school with honors and earned a full academic scholarship. He refused to take a plea deal.
“Incarceration at Rikers has been incredibly difficult for me, but it was my family who truly suffered,” Pedro said in a statement. “Being back with them is the greatest gift.”
“There are too many more like me who are still inside Rikers just because they can’t afford to pay bail,” he added. “I hope my experience elevates their struggle and causes all of us to rethink how we treat those who are least able to purchase their freedom.”
The damage has been done already, but hopefully Pedro was freed in time to not become another Kalief Browder case.