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Mama's Day Bail Out, 2018

By Wendy Shang posted 04-19-2018 11:57 AM


Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for phone call volume. But for the second year in a row, a collective of Black organizers and lawyers is doing something more than a phone call: They are bringing mothers home to their families.

The National Bail Out collective, a formation of Black organizers and lawyers, is working with groups in over a dozen locations to bail out as many Black mothers and caregivers as possible so they can spend Mother’s Day with their families. Last year’s event saw more than 200 people bailed out, and more than $150,000 raised for supportive services such as emergency transportation and long-term housing. This year, in addition to working on direct bail out actions, the collective is also providing technical assistance and communications support to groups who want to join the movement to end money bail and make a difference in their communities.

Women are one of the fastest-growing correctional populations in the U.S., with numbers in jail now fourteen times greater than in 1970. Yet, most women in jail are charged with non-violent crimes. Sixty percent of women in jail are being held pretrial, 80% are mothers, and 60% are African-American or Latina. While women are often given lower bond amounts, they are also less likely to be able to afford them; a study of women who cannot afford bail found that women who could not afford bail made scarcely more per year than the average bail amount of $10,000.

The collective offers a number of ways to get involved:

  • Download the toolkit (when you provide your name and email, it will be sent to you) and register for a five-part webinar series that will break down how you can plan and implement bail outs;
  • If you are a lawyer or legal worker and want to provide research or representation support, fill out this survey;
  • Email the and complete this survey if your group or network is interested in having more individualized planning or financial support; and
  • If you are not doing a bail out but want to do a solidarity action, check out their  “Transformative Bail Curriculum” and consider planning a teach-in or other solidarity event.

Poet and essayist Audre Lorde once wrote, “To acknowledge privilege is the first step in making it available for wider use. Each of us is blessed in some particular way, whether we recognize our blessings or not. And each one of us, somewhere in our lives, must clear a space within that blessing where she can call upon whatever resources are available to her in the name of something that must be done.” This Mother’s Day, let’s make the freedom of mothers the thing that must be done.


Aleks Kajstura, Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017 (October 19, 2017).

Elizabeth Swavola, Kristine Riley, and Ram Subramanian, Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform, Vera Institute of Justice (August 2016).

1 comment



04-22-2018 01:15 AM

I'm a bail agent and have bonded many mothers for very little money, so to make money bail sound bad you may not really understand our jobs fully and what we do for people.  Pretrial charges for monitoring which is not free and U.A's, with money bail it is probably much cheaper on defendants to pay a one time fee,  plus the bill is not footed by tax payers dollars.  Also bail agents work with the loved ones of Defendants as they cosign and take responsibility for helping us get them to comply with the courts. We work very hard, when you all are sleeping, we are out trying to get people to comply, and work with law enforcement to make their jobs less hectic.  We deserve some credit, this business hasn't been around for ages without success, if we could all work together without the bashing of bondsmans we might have much success.