The Memphis, TN chapter of Black Lives Matter is planning a special gift for local children this Mother’s Day so they can spend that time with the women in their lives who more than likely matter the most. EBONY reports that the activists are attempting to raise $35,000 to bail out black mothers who have been arrested and placed in custody during the holiday so they can be reconnected with their children.
Organizer Erica Perry hopes that even if it’s only for a short time, these mothers can at least spend it with their children:
“If you a black mama, you’re in jail, you talking to us, then you’re eligible.”
“We’re asking our community members to think how they spend Mother’s Day, how they celebrate and honor the women who they love.”
The campaign, a part of a national effort led by ColorofChange.org and Movement for Black Lives Policy, is intended to bail out women who have been arrested for misdemeanor crimes like truancy where charges will more than likely end up being dismissed. The group is focusing on Shelby County where 274 women are in jail and waiting for their day in court. About a quarter of those women are being held for misdemeanor crimes that include driving under a suspended license and truancy.
Shay Jones a member of the chapter revealed this effort is one that speaks personally to her after experiencing a similar situation as a mother:
“At the time my child was four years old. She had to deal with her mom. I had to go to court five or six times.”
“I have had personal experience with it and I do know it creates a hardship to have to come up with $1,000 for something that ultimately was dismissed. It’s really about the fact that these people’s freedom has been taken from them because they do not have money.”
It’s a problem that has recently been brought to light by docuseries like “The Kalief Browder Story” especially for those who are not as familiar with the criminal justice process and how much money can directly affect a person’s freedom. Alex Karakatsanis, a lawyer and executive director of the nonprofit Civil Rights Corps tells the Memphis Commercial Appeal that the problem isn’t just a Tennessee or New York problem, but a problem for the entire country:
“It’s an incredibly significant problem plaguing virtually every jurisdiction in the country. There are about 450,000 to 500,000 human beings who, on any given night in this country, are in a jail cell solely because they can’t make a monetary payment prior to being convicted.”
If you’d like to donate or help a family member who’s in jail, contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.