Freedom Fund for Rahsaan
$9,483 of $35,000 raised
Join our community of supporters, loved ones, and advocates in raising legal funds for Rahsaan “New York” Thomas – a journalist, podcast producer and host, community organizer, and freelance writer currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. We are seeking to raise $35,000 to retain a legal team who can assist Rahsaan in fighting for his freedom after over 20 years of incarceration.
In 2000, Rahsaan "New York" Thomas was sentenced to 55 years to life with the possibility of parole. He has since been recommended for a commutation of sentence by the Board of Parole Hearings in 2017 under Governor Brown, but was denied at the final stage of review. 2020 marks the final year of Rahsaan’s primary sentence, and he is currently seeking timely legal representation to help him file a habeas petition submitting new evidence that could overturn his conviction.
Rahsaan’s fight for freedom is more urgent than ever, as he is currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison – the site of the nation’s largest coronavirus outbreak at its height. Today, over two-thirds of the prison population have tested positive for COVID-19 and nearly 30 incarcerated people have died. Rahsaan himself tested positive for COVID-19 this summer and has since recovered. In addition, a recent court ruling In re Von Staich found that conditions of confinement at San Quentin violated incarcerated people's 8th amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. The decision ordered a 50% population reduction and recommended the release of those like Rahsaan who are elderly and serving life sentences.
Bring Rahsaan Home:
After 20 years behind bars, Rahsaan is ready to come home to reunite with his loved ones and start a life outside of prison. He hopes that freedom will allow him to continue on his transformative journey and to serve his community in greater ways than he is able to in prison. He wants to expand the nonprofit organization he co-founded in prison, Prison Renaissance, as he works to create more representation and opportunities in art and media for incarcerated people statewide, while growing as an advocate to more successfully uplift the lived expertise of incarcerated people and the solutions they hold.
He has a vast community of supporters, friends and family ready to welcome him with open arms and support all aspects of his reentry. He hopes to come home in time to answer the prayers of his Mother, 70, and his mentor David Rothenberg, 83, who wish to see him free before they pass away.
More About Rahsaan:
Though Rahsaan "New York" Thomas is best known as the co-host and producer of the Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Awards nominated podcast, Ear Hustle, he is most proud of his work with San Quentin's SQUIRES program where he provides trauma-informed counseling to youth. He is also a staff writer for the San Quentin News, the chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists San Quentin chapter, and a contributor to the Marshall Project, Vice, Missouri Review, Life of the Law, Business Insider, and more. You can learn more about his journey as a writer and podcast producer in this article titled "Meet Rahsaan 'New York' Thomas: Ear Hustle's New Inside Co-Host."
In addition, Rahsaan is the co-founder of the non-profit organization Prison Renaissance, started in 2015 to provide a platform for incarcerated writers and artists to publish their work and participate in vital conversations regarding criminal justice reform. He is also an Initiate Justice Inside Organizer and Board Member, and a key architect of their advocacy work for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people's voting rights which has since inspired Proposition 17 upcoming on CA's 2020 ballot.
Join Rahsaan's fight for freedom by donating and sharing this fundraiser with your communities!
93 people donated a total of $9,483.00