On Thursday, May 10 at 12:30 p.m., Essie Justice Group, in partnership with Young Women’s Freedom Center, TGI Justice Project, and the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, held a press conference Thursday as part of the National Black Mamas Bail Out Campaign (www.nationalbailout.org).
In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, dozens of racial and criminal justice organizations are coordinating in cities across the country to bail out Black mamas – including queer, transgender, young, elder and mothers who may not have physically given birth – who are sitting in cells because they cannot afford bail.
Every day an average of 700,000 people are condemned to local jails and separated from their families. A majority of them are there simply because they cannot afford to pay bail.
The organizations involved in the National Bail Out are working to end money bail and, in the meantime, get as many people out of cages and back to their families as they can.
The press conference in Oakland lifted up the voices of the directly impacted women, community leaders and advocates of grassroots organizations as well as policymakers and attorneys dedicated to ending the predatory bail system once and for all.
In California, where bail is set at five times the rate of the national average, more than 46,000 people are behind bars each day simply because they cannot afford to pay their bail.
The impact of the state’s money bail system—including the loss of homes, jobs, and custody of children—is acutely felt by communities of color and women; many Black, Latino, and low-income people and their families are least able to afford bail.
For people who are undocumented, the inability to pay bail increases the risk of abrupt deportation.
In 2017, national efforts freed more than 100 women across the country. Last year, Essie Justice Group headed up the effort in the Bay Area, bailing out three Black mothers who were able to spend Mother’s Day with their families rather than in prison because of the unjust bail-for-profit system.
Speakers at the press conference included Brendon Woods, Alameda County Public Defender; Gina Clayton, founder and executive director, Essie Justice Group; Lateefah Simon, president, Akonadi Foundation; Pastor Michael McBride, director of Urban Strategies and Live Free campaign, PICO; Young Women’s Freedom Center; TGI Justice Project; and women and families impacted by the bail system.