Baltimore Action Legal Team Joins National Mama’s Bail Out Day
Above Photo: Steve Rainwater/flickr/cc
Baltimore Action Legal Team will reunite incarcerated women and children with their families to highlight inhumane bail practices.
BALTIMORE, MD — In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, Baltimore Action Legal Team (BALT) is joining a coalition of racial and criminal justice organizations across the country to bail out “mamas”—mothers and other transgender and cisgender women—who would otherwise spend Mother’s Day in a cell because they are unable to afford bail.
Starting at noon on Friday, May 12, Baltimore Action Legal Team bailed out 6 individuals who were all being held on minor charges because they could not afford to pay bail. BALT partnered with Baltimore Jail Support who provided support upon their release, including emotional support, water, food, transportation, and basic first aid for people being released from Baltimore’s Central Booking and Intake Facility. People who were bailed out ranged in age from 20 to 44. It cost as little as $100 to as much as $1,000 to secure their freedom. The effort took around the clock work, clearing up wrong information, and waiting hours in the room to greet moms with gift baskets. Although bails were posted as early as 1 PM on Friday May 12 – no one emerged from Central Booking until almost 3 AM the following morning. The last person was not freed until Saturday morning.
“Mother’s Day is a day when we ask Black mothers what they want” said Charlene Dukes, co-founder of the Baltimore Action Legal Team. “Black mothers want freedom. In the U.S., 1 in 2 Black women has a family member incarcerated. We hope that our action will send a clear message that Black women and those who love us are calling for an end to the predatory and exploitative bail industry in Maryland. It’s time to end cash bail.”
BALT focused on bailing out women and young people under the age of 21 and did not use the bailbonds industry to secure their release. This event is a small piece in the fight to dismantle Maryland’s inhumane cash bail system. During the recent session of Maryland’s general assembly, numerous organizations fought hard to reform Maryland’s bail system. Grassroots organizations were successfully able to defeat a bill backed by the bail bonds industry that aimed to overturn a court ruling that takes effect on July 1. The rule, which was unanimously approved by the highest court in Maryland, requires judges and commissioners to consider a person’s ability to pay before money bail amounts are set. Starting July 1, for the first time court officers will be required to impose the “least onerous” conditions when setting bail for a defendant who is not considered a danger or a flight risk.
Originally conceived by Southerners on New Ground, the National Mama’s Bail Out Day will raise awareness of the human and financial costs of money bail and emphasize its impact on Black mothers and caregivers. 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 ten 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.
Ahead of Mother’s Day, www.nomoremoneybail.org will host videos that highlight the impact of bail on mothers and caregivers. The official website will also serve as a resource and campaign hub for local bail and canvassing efforts, as well as a portal for donations.