For Mother's Day, Activists Are Sending Jailed Moms Home To Their Kids

"Our communities are deeply impacted by their absence."

Each day, an average of 700,000 people are jailed and separated from their families simply because they can't afford bail, but this Mother's Day National Mama's Bail Out Day is on a quest to give previously imprisoned mothers the celebration they deserve.

The nation-wide initiative — which gives incarcerated mothers who haven't been charged with a crime the opportunity to spend Mother's Day with their families — is the brainchild of Mary Hooks, the executive director of the LGBTQ organization, Southerners on New Ground. Per Vice's Broadly, Hooks thought of the idea back in January during an event organized by the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, and immediately garnered support.

With Mother's Day just around the corner, organizations around the country like The Dream Defenders and Color of Change have pledged money and resources to get mothers (particularly those who belong to marginalized groups) out of jail in time for the holiday. The Nation reports these organizations have raised more than $250,000 thus far, and plan to free at least 30 women across the country.



The initiative aims to aid all incarcerated moms, but it's important to note that black mothers in particular are often targeted by the criminal justice system. According to NoMoreMoneyBail.org, black women are twice as likely as their white counterparts to be jailed, and The Nation notes black women make up 44 percent of women in jails. 

NoMoreMoneyBail also establishes that trans women are especially vulnerable to incarceration, and since 1980 the number of women incarcerated has jumped by a whopping 700 percent.

It's crucial to point out that many of these jailed women — 80 percent of whom are mothers — are locked up for crimes they haven't even been convicted of. Most are accused of minor drug or "quality of life offenses" such as disorderly conduct or loitering, and only remain in jail because they're unable to make bail. 

Once jailed, these women face an uphill battle. "When this happens, our communities are deeply impacted by their absence. When Black mamas are taken from our communities, we all suffer," Hooks tells Broadly. "Not only does this impact our sons and daughters, but the loss of jobs, housing, and peace of mind severely impacts our community." 

According to the National Resource Center on Children & Families of the Incarcerated, more than 2.7 million children across the country have an incarcerated parent, and approximately half of children with incarcerated parents are under 10 years old. It's also worth noting that 1 in 9 African American children in the United States have an incarcerated parent, versus 1 in 28 Hispanic children and 1 in 57 white children. These children are then at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, and lower grades.

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"In making black lives matter, we must love and protect each other. To show our love for the black mamas, in all of our varieties, is... essential," Hooks explains to Broadly, and she's thinking beyond just Mother's Day as well. Her hope is that "the majority of women [will be able to] go back to court with legal support, which then means they are less likely to plead out."