A collective of organizations and activists dedicated to spreading awareness about racial inequality within our country’s criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration is on a mission to unite Black mothers who can’t afford to post bail with their families just in time for Mother’s Day. For the third year in a row, the National Bail Out is leading the Black Mamas Bail Out campaign as an avenue to help economically disadvantaged African American women who have been impacted by the unjust cash bail system, People reported.
The number of women of color sitting behind bars for non-violent offenses is growing at an alarming rate. According to a report released by the Prison Policy Initiative, 80 percent of women in jails are mothers and a majority of them are the primary caretakers for their children. The National Coalition of Black Civic Participation estimated that 60 percent of incarcerated Black women have dependent children. The barriers and lack of resources provided for Black women in these situations led to the creation of the #FreeBlackMamas movement. Through the initiative the collective is aiming to bail out over 100 women across 35 cities this year. So far there has been over $350,000 raised. Since its inception in 2017, 300 mothers have been released and reunited with their families. Last year alone, there were over 150 mothers released.
The collective’s efforts go far beyond simply bailing individuals out. As part of the campaign, the National Bail Out created the Free Black Mama’s Fellowship; an 8-week paid program that provides advocacy-focused workshops so formerly incarcerated women can turn their pain into progress and become change agents in the bail reform space.
“We understand the bail outs as connected to the long and deep history of anti-Blackness. We see these fights to free our mamas for Mother’s Day and to fight against money bail really as fights that continue the work of abolition that our ancestors began,” Marbre Stahly-Butts, one of NBO’s founding members, said in a statement. “We see bail as a symptom of an underlying problem. We believe that people are more than the mistake they made. When folks have done harm, we think there are better ways to deal with that harm than to put them in a cage.”
The initiative has proven to be nothing short of effective and impactful. “It was a beautiful feeling, for people who did not know me, to come and get me out for Mother’s Day,” one of the mothers who was recently released and reunited with her family told ABC News. “They became family.”