Three community groups pooled their resources and came up with $20,000 bail to allow a mother of six to spend Mother’s Day with her children, the groups’ spokeswoman said Saturday.
The effort by The Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), Dignity and Power Now (DPN), and a New Way of Life was a part of a nationwide campaign called National Mama’s Bail Out Day, said the group’s spokeswoman Jasmyne Cannick.
Other organizations, including Southerners on New Ground, the Movement for Black Lives and Color of Change, have raised more than $360,000 to bail out black mothers around the United States for the holiday, Cannick said.
The campaign highlights the impact of pretrial detention on black families and how the bail system in California unfairly punishes the poor, she said.
“Many women are in jail for low-level and non-violent offenses — crimes of survival,” DPN founder Patrisse Cullors said. “Black women make up 44 percent of women in jails, and nearly a third of women in jail nationwide have serious mental-health issues.
When black women can’t bail out of jail here in Los Angeles County, the Department of Children and Family Services oftentimes gets involves which means putting black children into foster homes,” Cullors said. “When women can’t pay their bail this sets them up to lose their jobs and even be evicted.”
Michelle Callendar, 40, who had been arrested on charges of felony petty theft and had a bail of $20,000, was selected for assistance after being identified by the Los Angeles County public defender’s Women’s Reentry Court, Cannick said. “I’m blessed,” said Callendar on being released in time for Mother’s Day. “I’m alive and my children are ecstatic. I can’t wait to pay it forward.”
The Mother’s Day bailout will free at least 100 women in 20 cities including Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and other cities nationwide. The idea for it came from a January gathering of 25 black-led organizations that wanted to collaborate on bail reform, Cannick said.
“Black women have always been the pillars that hold up our communities,” said Pete White, executive director and founder of LACAN. “Our pillars are under attack with the incarceration of black women at an all time high.
Many are held in jail with bails of exorbitant amounts for low-level, non-violent crimes of survival,” he continued. “We are safer when our mamas are home taking care of our children and our communities.”
—City News Service
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