As a group of black mothers walked out of jail in Atlanta on Thursday some were crying.
Onlookers expressed joy and happiness as the women were bailed out just in time for Mother’s Day to be at home with their families. Even some of the corrections officers were in tears.
“Folks were so grateful and some women were weeping. Some women had been in a cage for months, for days and were non-responsive and overwhelmed even though they knew that this was happening. I don’t think they realized how much love [was in the community for them],” said Mary Hooks, co-director of Southerners on New Ground, an Atlanta-based regional queer liberation organization and one of the groups that is organizing the bailouts.
A coalition of 25 groups across the country organized National Mama’s Bail Out Day to bring attention to ways in which the criminal justice system and the bail process is disproportionately affecting black mothers, Hooks said.
“Our people are dying at the hands of police or a slow death that happens while they’re awaiting trial in court whether that’s physical death, the loss of peace of mind and mental health or the jobs, houses, children and all of the other collateral damage that our people are experiencing because they are only too poor to pay their bail,” said Hooks who estimates 60 women will be bailed out nationwide.
“And that weight falls primarily on black women who are trying to hold it down and support all the folks in our community.”
Many of the women in jail across the country are black and mothers. Black women are 44 percent of the nation’s jail population and almost 80 percent of the women in jail have young children, according to a 2016 Vera Institute of Justice report. Also, more than 5.1 million children have had a parent in prison or jail at some point in their life, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
— #SuperLeft2017 (@prisonculture) May 11, 2017
The coalition raised about $400,000 to bail mothers out of jail, said Arissa Hall, a National Mama’s Bail Out Day organizer and project manager at the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.
Hall said the 25 groups met in January at a meeting convened by the Movement for Black Lives and Color of Change to collaborate on bail reform. At that meeting Hooks mentioned bailing black mothers out of jail.
“As a black lesbian mother, as someone who has spent time in a cage I know the feeling of being snatched away from my babies and I know that there’s women in my life that have raised me that have spent time in cages and that’s queer and trans mothers, church mothers,” Hooks said. “Eighty percent of the black women who are in cages are single mothers, caretakers. We are being targeted and profiled.”
SOURCE: SHERRI WILLIAMS