Hey, what are you getting your mom for Mother’s Day? A card? Flowers? A few of her favorite Ben & Jerry’s pints? Being a mom is hard work, so whatever your plans are this May 10th, make sure you make your mom feel special (while maintaining social distancing...).
Of course, some mothers won’t be able to celebrate this day with their kids. Did you know that 80% of the more than 2 million women jailed each year in the US are mothers? (The rate of imprisonment for women has grown twice as fast as it has for men since 1980.) Incarceration has a huge impact on families, and no one suffers more from that separation than kids.
That’s why we love what the National Bail Out Collective (NBO) is doing to help bring mothers home for Mother’s Day. Families deserve to be together—on Mother’s Day, and every day.
Keep Families Together
America’s money bail system seemingly works just fine if you’re wealthy, but people who can’t afford to pay bail can wind up behind bars indefinitely, for weeks, months, or even years. Of the roughly 230,000 women incarcerated in the United States right now, more than half are being held in jails, and many of them haven’t been convicted of anything. They’re behind bars, like hundreds of thousands of other people, only because they don’t have money for bail. With women continuing to face discrimination in the workplace and a gender pay gap that results in women earning 83 cents for every dollar earned by men, it’s no wonder they can’t afford bail.
But the situation gets worse: More than 60% of women in state prisons, and nearly 80% of those in jail, have children younger than 18 back home. And most of these women are their kids’ primary caregiver.
At least 5 million kids in the US have had a parent spend time behind bars—or about 7% of all American youth. Children of color are disproportionately affected: 1 in 9 Black children (11.4%), versus 1 in 57 white children (1.8%) have an incarcerated parent. Studies show that kids with an incarcerated parent are more likely to suffer from a whole slew of health problems, like PTSD, depression, and asthma. They’re also more likely to experience poverty and to struggle at school. All of this puts their future at risk.
Bailouts Are Only the Beginning
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Since 2017, the National Bail Out Collective has gotten hundreds of mothers out of jail on Mother’s Day so that they can be right where they belong—at home, with their kids. But really, that’s only the beginning. The NBO also offers other services, like fellowships and employment opportunities, to those they bail out. And since the start of the pandemic, the NBO has stepped up to help families by providing weeks of groceries, rent assistance, and other support services.
Kids need their mothers home now—and their mothers need our support once they’re there.
Time to Transform the System
Of course, what we really need is systemic change. We stand with the NBO in recognizing that money bail is just one part of a racist, violent, and ineffective system focused on punishment and incarceration rather than care—it’s time to take the money flowing into prisons and use it to invest in communities and people instead.
So, this Mother’s Day, as we celebrate the women who take care of us and support us, let’s think of those mothers who want to do the same for their kids, but can’t. Support the NBO. Help make sure that families stay together. Then contact your members of Congress and tell them it’s time to end money bail!