This Sunday, many of us have the opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with our own mothers or other women who have had an influential impact on our life. However, many women across the U.S. will not have this oppourtunity.
Black Lives Matter is trying to fix this by bailing out Black women in jails all over the United States who are merely held captive because they can’t afford to pay bail despite the fact that they have not been convicted of a crime.
The objective of the “National Mama’s Bail Out Day” is to “give incarcerated mothers an oppourtunity to spend Mother’s Day with their families and build community through gathers that highlight the impact of inhumaness and destructive bail practices on our communities.”
This campaign recognizes that there is more than one way to identify as a mother. In fact, “The term ‘mama,’ as it’s used by the National Black Mamas Bail Out Day campaign, is broadly defined to include not just women with biological children, but all women—including trans women—who are linchpins for their families and neighborhoods.”
So far, more than 500 women have been bailed out from cities including Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago. The campaign has raised $500,000, setting aside $25,000 for each of the 13 cities designated. However, this has not stopped activists from donating on their own.
According to Mother Jones, “activists have also raised money individually as well. Members of the Atlanta chapter of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), an LGBT-focused racial justice group, canvassed neighborhoods and collected small donations in a hat, according to Mary Hooks, an organizer with the chapter who came up with the idea for the nationwide initiative.”
“Black people have a tradition of using our collective resources to buy each other’s freedom,” Hooks said.
Why is this their work important?
The BLM movement and other activists are attempting to shine light on the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice is actively violating the 4th amendment by insisting that (predominantly) poor people pay an excessive bail amount in order to obtain their freedom, and their work is vital in order to make significate strides in criminal justice reform.
Each day, approximately 700,000 people are held captive because they can not pay bail. This means that they could lose their home, their job, their children and much more. Since 1980, the number of women incarcerated has increased by 700%. One in five trans women have spent time in jail or prison. Overall, 8 in 10 women that are currently incarcerated are mothers.
According to Mother Jones, “Nationally, the median bail set for a felony charge is $10,000, almost a year’s income for the average person unable to meet bail, according to the Sentencing Policy Initiative. Nearly 90 percent of inmates awaiting trial can’t afford bail; The average bail amount in felony cases has nearly tripled since 1990.”
The majority of these women are not murders or rapist nor have they committed any other violent crime. Many of these women have committed low level drug offenses and other misdeameanors. By incarcerating people who could potentially not be guility of the crime they were accused of, it has already wasted over 9 billion dollars.
Regardless of the monetary amount this is costing our country, incarcerating people simply because they can not afford bail is wrong and our country must find another alternative. Instead, our justice department should adopt “Risk Assements” to truly account for the entire context of why a person has been convicted of a crime to determine how much their bail should be. Furthermore, Prosecutors should make it a priority to only set Bail for only the heinous of crimes. The idea that people won’t show up to court without bail is simply not true. The Root reported that,
“Upward of 95 percent of people helped by bail funds return to court for their scheduled appearances. “People will come back to court regardless of whether or not bail is set.”
It is time that we stop letting the Bail Bonds industry profit off of our communities and take back our right to freedom and motherhood.