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Atlanta Activists bail out dozens of jailed women for Mother's Day

Southerners On New Ground helped free over 90 women in 34 cities.

Southerners On New Ground

While many across the country were gearing up to celebrate Mother's Day with their loved ones this past weekend, several organizations were teaming up to help bail mothers and caretakers out of jail in time for the heartwarming holiday.

As reported, for the third year in a row, nonprofit Southerners on New Ground kicked off their Black Mamas Bail Out initiative, which works to post bond for incarcerated women of color in 34 cities across the country. According to the initiative's Twitter page, this year's movement succeeded in freeing 90 mothers throughout the country, allowing these women the opportunity to spend Mother's Day with their families instead of behind bars.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, nearly 70% of women who are in jail because they can't afford bail are mothers of children under 16. Such a statistic further enforces the importance and urgency behind criminal justice reform efforts such as this one, especially considering how mass incarceration disproportionately affects people of color.

Arissa Hall, project director of the National Bail Out collective, helps lead the Black Mamas Bail Out initiative, which took place this year from May 6 to May 12.

"We know that all of the people that are being held in pretrial detention, which is about 700,000 people as we speak, haven't been convicted of a crime and also are there solely because they cannot afford bail," she shared with HuffPost.

As reported, the initiative began in January 2017 and featured combined efforts from organizations Color of Change and the Movement for Black Lives. Hall credits Mary Hooks of the group Southerners on New Ground with the idea to organize around Mother's Day specifically.

"About 14 organizations that were in that room together, committed to doing that. Then we created the infrastructure, which was an advisory committee to actualize the bailouts," Hall explained.

According to Hall, in 2017, they raised $1 million and bailed out 100 Black mothers and caregivers, marking the first mass bailout in recent history. Since then, the initiative has bailed out more than 300 people and paid more than $985,000 in bail.

Additionally, the group provides assistance for moms once they get out of jail, such as by offering an eight-week fellowship for "in-person political education/organizing sessions and interactive group webinars." As reported, these efforts culminate in the annual FreeHer Conference, which is held by the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.

"I'm not free until all my people are free," SONG bailout organizer Lisa Clinton shared with local reporters, noting that 700 donations helped pool their $40,000 fund to help provide assistance to those who cannot afford bail. "There are too many people here in this world who are being discriminated against, and they're being abused. We fight for the marginalized people, the oppressed people."

For more information about Southerners On New Ground, please see here. To learn more about the Black Mamas Bail Out initiative, please see here.

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