Mama’s Bail Out

By Spike Bradford posted 05-03-2017 12:30 PM


Every day, all across America, women are arrested and detained unnecessarily for no reason other than their inability to purchase their release using money bail. Many care for families that must endure their absence and scramble to find money in order to see them released.

This year a coalition of nearly 20 advocacy and social justice organizations are stepping up to do something about the problem. In the week prior to Mother’s Day, the groups will take part in National Mama’s Bail Out Day, a coordinated effort initiated by the Atlanta-based Southerners On New Ground, which developed the idea after noticing how many women were in jail unconvicted.

The Bail Out is modeled after community bail funds that pay money bail for community members at no expense to the individual. These funds have demonstrated that requiring arrested people to pay money in order to get out of jail before trial is an unnecessary practice that results in the purposeless detention of poor and working-class people. Groups like the Brooklyn Bail Fund, a participant in the Mama’s Bail Out action, report a 95 percent court appearance rate and their clients are twice as likely to have their cases dismissed or resolved favorably.

The ultimate solution to the problem of money-based pretrial detention is to remove money from the system altogether and base pretrial release decisions on a reliable measure of risk, the merits of each case, and the circumstances of each individual. The organizations behind National Mama’s Bail Out Day are making it clear they are no longer willing to wait for the slow wheels of change. Their efforts will ensure that more Mamas will be home with their families this Mother’s Day, instead of in jail.

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