A group of activists in the United States have announced plans to fulfill the bail requirements of several Black mothers held in prisons across the country.
The group of community organizers and grass roots activists includes Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, and a dozen other racial and criminal justice organizations say they are leading the charge to help bail out Black Moms in a campaign called “National Mama’s Bail Out Day,” according to the Huffington Post.
Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change and one of the lead campaigners, explained in a statement:
No one — whether they’re a birth Mother, an aunt, or a teacher — should have to spend Mother’s Day in a cell just because they can’t afford bail.
For the first time ever, we’re sending that message through a national, coordinated day of action, awareness, and kindness, building on our efforts to fuel decarceration.
Money bail and the industry that profits from it has long been destroying our communities,” Robinson added, “so this Mother’s Day Black people across the country are going to reunite our families and demand an end to that system.
Therefore, in the days leading up to Mother’s Day (May 14th) in the United States, the campaign is working with public defenders, community members, churches, and other spiritual institutions to help raise money to bail out Black mothers.
The group says it also plans to provide helpful resources to those released and host sessions to highlight how much of a negative impact the current requirements for bail is having on Black families.
The activists condemn the American criminal justice system, which they describe as taking money from people, including the poor, in exchange for freedom.
Paying for Freedom
In the U.S. criminal justice system, persons arrested even on minor charges are required to pay bail to get out of jail before trial — regardless of whether they are considered a public safety or flight risk.
And when defendants cannot afford their freedom, they must either turn to a commercial bail-bondsman ― which typically charges a non-refundable premium of 10 percent of the total bail ― or languish behind bars.
The campaigners say more than 700,000 people are incarcerated each day because they cannot afford bail and more than $9 billion is spent on men and women who are behind bars but have not yet been convicted of a crime.
“Our corrupt criminal justice system forces innocent people who pose no threat to purchase their freedom,” Ruth Jeannoel, a Black Mother and community organizer, says in a video on the campaign’s site.
“The costs are devastating. Women oftentimes lose their homes, jobs, or even children just to be found innocent. Some women like Sandra Bland have even lost their lives.”
By some figures, Black women in the United States are twice as likely as their White counterparts to be sent to prison.
And according to the activists, Mothers account for around 8 in 10 of incarcerated women. In addition, the number of women in incarceration has increased 700 percent since 1980, with minorities such as Black and transgender women being disproportionately represented.