Local gallery owner Matt Rice bails stranger out of jail on MLK Day

Rice, who also bailed a man out on New Year’s Eve, urges others to put money towards bail also.
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Williams (left) & Rice. // Courtesy of Matt Rice.

Given the current political climate, it is easy to share a post and move on. While social media has been instrumental in a lot of social activism, stepping into the community and acting on issues at hand can have a major impact. 

Rice was tired of seeing colleagues and businesses alike posting about social issues and not taking action. So, he decided to put his money where his mouth is and post bail for as many non-violent offenders as he could.

“If you know about it but don’t do anything about it,” Says Rice, “It starts to scrape at your soul.” 

When getting started, Rice reached out to local bail bondsmen and was able to get lists of candidates in need of bail, as well as learn a little bit about their lives. 

According to Rice, getting involved is a lot easier than one would think. If someone pays a person’s bail in full, it is likely that they will get the money back when the case has been resolved. Also, if a person does not have the funds to pay for someone’s full bail giving to a community bail fund is just as meaningful. 

Through his research, Rice found an organization called KC Community Bail Fund Project which he urges others to get involved with. The fund focuses on using community donations to post bail for individuals in pretrial detainment, then replaces the money to the fund when the case has been resolved. Donating can be done online, with a minimum of $10. 

Rice has pledged $10,000 to help those in need of bail money and plans to continue bailing people out until his funds run out. On MLK Day, he called a bail bondsman and found a candidate in need of bail money, paid the bail, and got the person out of detainment. 

Bailing people out is just the push that many people need, Rice claims, to get them back on the right track. Oftentimes people are detained through no fault of their own and have little to no access to resources needed to make bail.  

“People don’t often take the time to make the connection from joblessness to nonviolent crimes such as theft or drug charges.” Says Rice, explaining that people will do what they feel is necessary to make ends meet.

Jerome Williams, the first person Rice bailed out, says, “Since I’ve been out, I’ve been able to finish what I was doing before getting locked up. I got enrolled into school for truck driving and got my CDL license.”

Williams, who has eight children, was also able to get back to his family. After graduation in February, he will be able to start work as a truck driver enabling him to better support his loved ones.

Had Williams still been in jail, he would have continued to be jobless until his upcoming hearing at the end of this month, and he would not have been able to get back to laying the foundation for his career. 

Since Williams’ release, Rice and Williams have stayed in contact and become close friends.

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