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Posted under: News Social Justice

Annual #FreeBlackMamas Bailout Initiative Beginning Early This Year In Wake Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Celebrating Black mothers and not just on Mother's Day.

Every Mother’s Day, National Bail Out reunites incarcerated Black Mothers separated from their children because of the discriminatory cash bail system. This year, they're getting started early. 

National Bail Out is a collective of Black activists, organizers and attorneys focused on bail reform for a system that disproportionately keeps Black mothers from their children, as Blavity previously reported.

Each year, the #FreeBlackMamas initiative posts bail for Black mothers to release them from jail and reunite them with their families. With the coronavirus sweeping through U.S. jails, incarcerated people are at high risk for exposure, and the coalition is beginning bailouts as a response to this unprecedented public health emergency. 

"Black mothers are the life and breath of our communities," project director Arissa Hall said in a statement sent to Blavity. "They sustain us. The mamas, the aunties, the godmamas, the grandmamas — they all sustain us. When our Black mamas are imprisoned, our whole communities suffer." 

“With fully intentional spirits and emboldened hearts, and in the spirit of freeing ourselves, National Bail Out announces today that we will begin bailing out Black mamas and caregivers now through May, to ensure our people are alive, well and safe for Mother’s Day and beyond,” read the organization's press release.

“We recognize our responsibility to ourselves, to the folks we are freeing and to those around us — especially now. The situation is far too urgent and the stakes far too high to waste another moment waiting for government action," the press release continued. 

Bailing out Black mothers is only the first point in a many-pronged attack to liberate Black women and strengthen their families and, ultimately, the Black community at large. The National Bail Out collective also facilitates fellowship and provides employment opportunities for those bailed out. The ultimate goal is not only for growth but to also create a national community of leaders who have experienced incarceration. National Bail Out will also provide safe housing options, groceries and holistic supportive services to every woman they bail out.

“We are taking action to free our folks in solidarity with the demands and bold actions by members of the National Bail Out collective and comrades across the nation to (1) free people from jails, prisons and detention centers and (2) to end the arrest and detention of our people during this pandemic," their statement read. 

National Bail Out is one of only a few organizations strategically focusing on eliminating cash bail and incarceration on bondable offenses. Dream Defenders, an organization in Florida, won a major victory when they saw their efforts prompt the release of incarcerated persons in Miami-Dade County from pre-trial detention. 

“State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has pledged to release people in Miami-Dade County from pre-trial detention who were arrested for misdemeanors and/or non-violent charges,” read an update posted by the Dream Defenders Instagram account.

In the release, National Bail Out notes that although they are ferocious advocates,  the responsibility of a fair and just legal system rests squarely with the government, and the glaring inequities are obvious now more than ever. 

“This announcement does not absolve the failures of our government to protect legally innocent women in the wake of this unprecedented crisis. As bailouts begin nationwide, government officials must be reminded that it is their duty — not ours — to release incarcerated people to safety.”

HBCUs are facing many challenges managing coronavirus responses and need your support. Donate to the UNCF fund today to help students impacted by the pandemic.

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Queer Multi-hyphenate creative who likes fruit snacks and well written TV. She is looking to be in somebody's writers' room. Her work is centered in narrative based social commentary. She forgot her twitter password ages ago, but you can still tag her @ImAmandaMonroe. On IG: @moe_sizslack. She has a cat named Eartha Kitt. Amanda thinks that joke is hilarious.