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Bail effort focuses on freeing black mothers from jail

“Free Black Mamas” is the theme for the Mississippi Bail Fund Collective’s effort during the month of May to pay bail for black women in jails across the state.

MBFC is a member of the community-based National Bail Out, “a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a movement to end pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration all while supporting Black communities,” according to The People’s Advocacy Institute.

MBCF identifies the #FreeBlackMamas effort as intended “to highlight the disproportionate number of incarcerated black women by working to get as many mothers and caregivers as possible out of jail and back into their homes with their families.”

“When mothers languish in jail because of money bail, our families and communities suffer,” said Rukia Lumumba, executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute. “Women often lose their jobs, housing or even children only to be found innocent. Their entire livelihoods are put at risk simply because they cannot afford to make bail.”

In addition to candidates that have been identified for the bail out, MBFC is seeking other candidates on an ongoing basis, focusing on individuals in populations at particular risk of contracting COVID-19. MBFC also provides holistic support services like food and rent assistance.

“The use of pretrial detention caused significant harm to Mississippians and their families even before the coronavirus outbreak. Being detained puts them at an even higher risk for exposure to COVID-19 because physical distancing is virtually impossible inside a detention center,” said Katherine Poor, attorney with the Office of the State Public Defender and MBFC partner. “One of the safest ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19’s spread inside county jails is to reduce the number of people and keep people from entering pretrial detention in the first place.”