Black Mama’s Bail Out Initiative Freed 100 Black Women on Mother’s Day

The National Bail Out Collective announced that more than 100 Black women were released from jail on Mother’s Day as part of its Black Mama’s Bail Out Day initiative. The organization also raised an additional $1 million to further the work of releasing incarcerated women.

The organization’s third annual Black Mama’s Bail Out Day campaign helped provide bail to 106 mothers and caregivers in more than 35 cities across the country ahead of Mother’s Day. Working with a coalition of Black-led organizations, activists, and lawyers, National Bail Out also raised awareness of cash bail, a system that disproportionately affects minority and low-income communities.

“This year was the largest Black Mama’s Bail Out yet and we couldn’t be more proud,” Arissa Hall, National Bail Out collective project director, said in a statement to The North Star.

Color Of Change, one of more than a dozen organizations that participate in the annual campaign, said this year’s effort helped 100 mothers spend Mother’s Day with their families and that 100 communities were “one step closer to healing because they’ve been reunited with caregivers.”

“We know that the racist system of cash bail continues to hold Black people back across the nation. Color Of Change and our members will continue to fight for the complete elimination of cash bail and the collective liberation of Black communities,” Erika Maye, Color Of Change’s deputy senior director of criminal justice, said in a statement.

The initiative received the support of several celebrities and lawmakers, including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and actors Mark Ruffalo and Ben Affleck.

“I want to see an end to the cash bail out system #CJR. I will contd (sic) to push & mobilize for these reforms, while also investing in @NationalBailOut #FreeBlackMamas to see Moms & caregivers reunited w (sic) loved ones throughout the country & #MA7,” Pressley tweeted on May 12. Pressley’s office did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for further comment. Hall said the fight against the cash bail system is “far from over.”

“The existence of cash bail and criminal legal system that entraps Black communities continues to devastate families across the nation,” Hall said. “We will keep bailing caregivers out of jail, supporting our communities and raising awareness of the broader impacts of money bail and pretrial detention.” There has been an increase in challenges to the cash bail system around the country. In April, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class action lawsuit against Detroit’s 36th District Court over cash bail. The ACLU argued that the cash bail system is both unconstitutional and discriminatory against poor people.

“A person’s freedom should not depend on how much money they have,” Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan’s deputy legal director, said in a statement at the time. “Bail was originally intended to ensure a person returns to court to face charges against them. But instead, the money bail system has morphed into mass incarceration of the poor. It punishes people not for what they’ve done but because of what they don’t have.”

According to a 2018 report by the Prison Policy Initiative, women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population. The report found that women’s state prison populations have grown at a faster rate than men’s. A large proportion of incarcerated women are held in local jails compared to the total incarcerated population, according to the report. This is because women are less likely to be able to afford cash bail than men. Those who could not afford bail lived on a median annual income below the poverty line, and "about 30 percent lower than men who could not afford bail," the report noted.

“Pretrial detention of even a few days can have life-altering effects for women and their families, putting jobs and housing at risk,” Prison Policy Initiative senior policy analyst Wendy Sawyer wrote. Since 2017, the Black Mama’s Bail Out Day initiative has helped release more than 400 people.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.