Jails and prisons keep families apart. Far too often, the people behind bars are a reflection of those who don’t have the resources to get out — to pay bail, to hire a good lawyer — rather that who’s guilty of any particular crime.
This is a country that locks people in jail while they wait for trial simply because they are too poor to pay bail. As Mother’s Day approaches, one group, Southerners On New Ground, decided to raise funds in order to bail out as many mothers as possible, with the hopes of reuniting families in advance of the annual holiday.
The number of women behind bars has grown at the astronomical rate of 700 percent since the 1980’s. In Georgia, 60 percent of all incarcerated people are parents, according to the Georgia Center for Opportunity. Nationally, about eighty percent of women who are incarcerated are parents.
Unable to pay bail, far too many people must languish in cells simply for being poor while they wait for their court date. This issue has garnered national attention, and the constitutionality of the practice has been challenged in some districts around the nation.
“We do not want to administer punishment before the defendant has been adjudicated guilty,” wrote one Houston defense attorney in a recent letter supporting one of these cases. “It makes no sense to spend public funds to house misdemeanor offenders in a high-security penal facility when the crimes themselves may not merit jail time.”
Jail shouldn’t keep families apart, but this Mother’s Day, thousands of mothers will be behind bars simply because their families cannot afford a few hundred or a few thousand dollars in bail. Southerners On New Ground has already raised more than $30,000 that will be used to bail folks out of jail. The more money they raise, the more families they reunite, so consider donating now: nomoremoneybail.org