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Fiona Apple
Courtesy Twitter / @ScottHech

Fiona Apple is holding the US courts to account

‘[They are] stupid asshole babies’

Fiona Apple’s latest album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters was all about radical openness, which is precisely what she’s advocating for now as a US Court Watcher. For the past two years, Apple has committed herself to advocating for transparency and accountability from the courts by volunteering to observe criminal justice proceedings online. 

Through her advocacy, Apple has helped people jailed pretrial to file a civil rights lawsuit. But now, the Grammy Award-winning artist believes that Maryland’s Prince George’s County courts have taken away her access to Zoom trials because she helped pretrial detainees file lawsuits against the country. 

Apple, who doesn’t run a public Twitter or Instagram account, asked civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger to tell her story. In the eight-video series posted by Hechinger, Apple explains that the staff of Prince George’s County are “stupid asshole babies”. She continues, “the point of doing this is just to inform you because there’s an entity trying to keep you all unaware of what’s going on behind closed doors.” These courts, according to Apple, have prosecutors who mock defendants who can’t afford a $50 bail and frequently jail defendants indefinitely. 

The imprisonment of poor, immigrant and racialised communities (who make up 70 per cent of the imprisoned population) has become big business for private prison companies, which is why imprisonment has become the first response to social problems. This is why Court Watchers, like Apple, are seen as a threat. 

Apple ends her videos with a plea: “Just think all of those people in there (there are thousands of people in there) having their lives upended. Having their whole family and communities – a ripple effect. Because the loved one can’t afford to get out. Because they got forgotten … Being treated like they’re not even human. Please care.”