On Friday, May 7, 2021, Essie Justice Group members directly intervened in America’s legacy of child separation, the disruption of Black motherhood, and the caging and control of Black bodies with our biggest Black Mama’s Bail Out to date.
With the help of the National Bail Out collective, community partners and elected officials, we spent $808,000 to secure the freedom of three Black mamas in two counties in California!
We launched a statewide petition with Color of Change, calling out California judges that systematically abuse their discretion to deprive people of their right to liberty and, most often, keep legally innocent Black and Brown people behind bars.
As part of the national day of action, Essie also partnered with Blavity to visibilize our Black Mama’s Bail Out with a livestream event that featured deeply moving political education, expansive ideas, and world changing thought.
Featured speakers included; LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, LA Public Defender Ricardo García, Essie Justice Group Executive Director Gina Clayton-Johnson, Essie members, and a special appearance by actress, director, writer, and producer Rashida Jones.
During the bailouts, Essie teams in both Alameda and Los Angeles county experienced the dehumanization that the carceral system regularly perpetuates. Essie staff and members found state facilities without soap and toilet paper (amidst a devastating pandemic that has claimed the lives of 224 incarcerated people in California). Both teams were strategically prevented from bailing out our mamas for over 13 hours, and one “Inmate Reception Center” staff member even referred to one of our mamas as a “body to be released in 6-8 hours.” Despite the disregard for human life and human dignity, we prevailed and we proved once again that “we come for ours!”
Each of the freed Black mama’s were overwhelmed, grateful, and immediately on the phone with their children who they hadn’t seen in over a year.
Now, Essie’s sisterhood gets to the deeper work of helping these mamas remove the obstacles between them and freedom — helping each mama attend their court dates, ensuring safe and consistent housing, and providing support well after the resolution of their case.
Thank you to all our partners and community members who helped us free these mamas and raise the awareness necessary to bring about mass change.
Take Action to support future bailouts!
News coverage of Essie Justice Group’s Black Mama’s Bail Out 2021:
Good Morning America – Effort to bail out Black moms from jail for Mother’s Day highlighted by COVID-19 crisis