Three St. Louis moms will be able to spend Mother’s Day with their children, thanks to the help of local activists who raised money to bail them out of jail for minor offenses, KMOV-TV (St. Louis) is reporting.
Ebony Williams, an activist with the Expect Us organization, says that she knows all too well the pain of being separated from her mother because of incarceration.
“I know what it would feel like if I was without my momma because of a traffic ticket because they can’t afford it.”
According to the Expect Us Facebook page, the organization aims to educate about matters of injustice, particularly towards women and African Americans, in American cities. For example, in addition to raising $2,000 to free three women from jail for Mother’s Day, the group plans to hold a rally today, “Bail Out Black Mothers,” at the St. Louis Justice Center (St. Louis’ central jail).
Beyond bailing the three St. Louis women out of jail, the organization hopes to connect them with help with their legal cases.
It’s not just in St. Louis – other American cities, with their own activists, are working to free women incarcerated for minor offenses on Mother’s Day, as well as bring awareness to the problems of unequal justice.
In Phoenix, according to KJZZ, both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and local organization LUCHA, collectively raised $16,000 in bail money to free women who are behind bars for minor offenses. Like St. Louis, Phoenix was also the scene of a demonstration at a jail.
Activist Jane Thomas is outraged that women, often single mothers, are put behind bars for minor offenses and then are kept there because they can’t afford bail.
“There’s thousands of stories like that, you know and it’s so inconvenient and people are losing their kids. I mean people’s kids have to be picked up and put in foster care. When the mother gets picked up there’s nobody for their kids- to keep their kids or anything. Those kids go to foster care.”
Across the country, untold numbers of poor Americans are in jail for minor crimes – in some cases, simple traffic offenses – and will remain there for weeks or even months because they can’t afford bail. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, innocent people will often plead guilty to crimes simply so they can get out of jail and return to work or their families.