In their largest bail out effort to date, the National Bail Out collective announced Tuesday morning that their third annual Mother’s Day campaign freed 100 black mothers—and raised an additional $1 million to set even more incarcerated women free.
The organization’s landmark achievement was part of the third annual Black Mama’s Bail Out campaign. In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, the coalition of black-led organizations, activists and lawyers led events in 35 different cities across the U.S. to raise funds for—and awareness about—cash bail, a system which keeps many low-income defendants behind bars simply because they don’t have the money to free themselves before trial.
“One hundred moms were able to spend the holiday with their families. One hundred communities are one step closer to healing because they’ve been reunited with caregivers,” said Erika Maye, a Deputy Senior Director at Color Of Change, one of the dozens of organizations involved in the bail out collective, in a statement.
“This year was the largest Black Mama’s Bail Out yet and we couldn’t be more proud,” added National Bail Out collective Project Director Arissa Hall.
According to recent statistics, women comprise the fastest growing segment of the country’s prison population—many of whom are kept in local jails as they await trial. Of the women locked behind bars because they can’t afford money bail, nearly 70 percent are mothers with children under 16.
This contact with the criminal justice system has a profound impact on families, particularly in the black community. Studies show children with incarcerated parents are more likely to show antisocial behavior—bullying, fighting, or threatening others. According to the Brennan Center, other research suggests they also face a higher risk of anxiety, depression, and attention problems. And while there is relatively little data about the family and community impact of incarcerating mothers specifically, we do know that that imprisoning mothers increases the risk of their children entering the foster care system, causing further familial disruption.
Because black people are disproportionately locked up, it follows that black children suffer the most from this nationwide trend. Data from 2007 showed black children were 7.5 times more likely than white children to have an incarcerated parent.
Maye stressed the need to continue targeting the system that allows black women to be forcibly separated from their families in the first place.
“We know that the racist system of cash bail continues to hold black people back across the nation,” Maye said. “Color Of Change and our members will continue to fight for the complete elimination of cash bail and the collective liberation of black communities.”
To date, the Black Mamas Bail Out campaign has helped free more than 400 black mothers.