UPDATED: 7/27/2017 9:35 AM
Pedro Hernandez will be released on bail on Thursday after spending over a year in jail. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Group has agreed to post his $100,000 bail, which means he will be able to qualify for the Posse Scholarship he was nominated for.
“No one should disappear into a jail as notorious as Rikers Island simply because they can’t afford bail,” said Kerry Kennedy, the human rights group’s president, to The New York Daily News. “The clear injustice of Pedro Hernandez’s situation breaks my heart, as it should the hearts of all New Yorkers who desire an effective justice system.”
Seventeen-year-old Pedro Hernandez has spent a year at New York’s Rikers Island by his own merit, but not for the reason you might think. The Bronx teen could have been out a year ago, but he chooses to fight the gun charge against him instead of accepting a plea deal — even if it means losing the full tuition college scholarship he was offered.
Hernandez was arrested last year in connection to a 2015 shooting that left another teen injured. He has professed his innocence and there have been multiple witnesses who have confirmed he wasn’t the shooter. Even the 16-year-old victim of the shooting has told the officers that Hernandez was not the gun man. However, Hernandez has remained in jail because his family has been unable to post his $250,000 bail.
All teens involved say that the officers involved in the case, particularly David Terrell, had pressured them to indicate that Hernandez was the perpetrator of the crime. In December, the NYPD stripped Terrell of his gun and badge, but he is still a detective on modified duty. The Bronx district attorney’s office said it’s investigating allegations of misconduct with the precinct.
During his time at Rikers, Hernandez has received his high school diploma and won countless awards of excellence and for his leadership in the classroom by the New York City Board of Education. He has even been offered a full-tuition scholarship by the Posse Foundation, a non-profit that partners with colleges and universities across the nation to get leaders from inner city communities scholarships. However, unless Hernandez is out of jail by September 1, he won’t be able to accept it.
His case has been postponed several times within the past year and was most recently pushed back until after Labor Day. While the Bronx district attorney’s office recently offered him a plea deal of five years probation, he wants to take his case to trial. The family is currently trying to raise $250,000 for Hernandez’ bail on a crowd funding page.
“As a family it’s become a true hardship to come up with the $250,000 bail; cash or bond,” writes Perez on the YouCaring page. “We ask for any donations possible that will help Pedro come home and attend college.”
“Everybody needs to stand together and say that our kids don’t deserve a plea deal,” mother Jessica Perez told NBC 4 New York. “They deserve a future.”
He deserves a future.