Children and families gathered for a rally Wednesday in Oakland to call attention to the injustice of the bail and pretrial detention system as part of the national #FreeBlackMamas annual bail out campaign (www.nationalbailout.org).
In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, dozens of racial and criminal justice organizations coordinated in 24 cities across the country to bail out as many Black mothers and caregivers as possible so they can spend Mother’s Day with their families and communities.
Hosting the rally on the steps of the Rene C. Davidson Alameda County Courthouse were Essie Justice Group, in partnership with the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, Young Women’s Freedom Center, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Sisters Warriors Coalition and TGI Justice Project.
Since launching in 2017 with the Black Mama’s Bail Outs, the National Bailout Campaign efforts has freed more than 300 people across the country. In 2017 and 2018, Essie Justice Group bailed out five 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.
This year, Essie expanded its bailout efforts to Los Angeles.
The national #FreeBlackMamas bailout campaign raising awareness of the human and financial costs of money bail and emphasize its impact on Black people. Every day nearly 700,000 people are incarcerated solely because they can’t pay money bail, despite often never being charged for a crime.
Eight in 10 women in jail are mothers and many of the Black women serving pre-trial detention have been accused of minor drug and “public order” offenses that disproportionately target Black people. The impact of the bail system—including the loss of homes, jobs, and custody of children—is acutely felt by communities of color and women.
The rally in Oakland lifted up the voices of directly impacted women and children, along with the community leaders and advocates and policymakers dedicated to reforming the pretrial detention system.
The advocates, policymakers and community members expressed their support for the “Getting Home Safe” Act, reintroduced in December 2018 by state Sen. Nancy Skinner in partnership with Young Women’s Freedom Center.
The bill seeks to stop the practice of dangerous late night releases from county jails in response to the tragic and preventable death of Jessica St. Louis. Jessica was released from Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail at 1:25 a.m. on July 28, 2018.
For more information on the national campaign, visit nationalbailout.org.