Lead Story West Edition

Black woman, 75, bailed out of jail for Mother’s Day

LOS ANGELES — Just in time for Mother’s Day, a 75-year-old great-grandmother was bailed out of Los Angeles County Jail May 9 as a part of National Bail Out’s Black Mama’s Bail Out campaign.  

A Long Beach resident, the great-grandmother was in jail for assault which she claims was self defense. Her bail was set at $30,000.

Her release is a part of an annual partnership between the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, Essie Justice Group and Dignity and Power Now that works to bail out black mothers for Mother’s Day.

“This woman who these wonderful community organizations are bailing out today is my client,” said attorney Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes with the county Public Defender’s Office. “I visited her yesterday. She is 75 years old and a great-grandmother.

“If bail were truly about keeping our communities safe, judges would base it on future dangerousness — past dangerousness. They would not base it on money. When it’s based on money, it is solely about keeping poor black and brown people incarcerated while the wealthy and the privileged and white go free. That’s what bail is truly about, let’s be clear.”

In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, dozens of racial and criminal justice organizations coordinated across 24 cities to bail out as many black mothers and caregivers as possible so they could spend Mother’s Day with their families and communities.

This year, Essie Justice Group worked with Dignity and Power Now and the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office to expand its bail out efforts to Los Angeles County in addition to Alameda County.

“80 percent of the women who are in jail are mothers,” added Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia. “That is a statistic that should appall all of us. We have a system of bail in our country that is completely unbalanced and unfair.

“In our country there are two parts. There’s that part that applies to those who have enough money to bail out and can fight their case and there’s a part — which is the majority of the population who can’t afford these outrageous bails who must sit in jail while they still presumed innocent,” Garcia added.

Since launching in 2017, Black Mamas Bail Out, a campaign of National Bail Out, has freed more than 300 women across the country. In 2017 and 2018, Essie Justice Group led the charge in California, bailing out five black mothers who were able to spend Mother’s Day with their families rather than in jail because of the current bail-for-profit system that exists.

Los Angeles County incarcerates more people pre-trial than any other place in the world. According to UCLA’s Million Dollar Hoods report on the status of women in the Los Angeles County jail system, between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2016, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recorded 173,023 bookings of women into the jail. Collectively, these women were confined for at least 16,466 years at a minimum cost of $751.97 million.

The most common charges included possession of controlled substances, driving on a suspended license or without insurance, theft, failure to appear and driving under the influence. The most common home zip codes of women arrested were in South Los Angeles, Palmdale and Lancaster.

Both Dignity and Power Now and JusticeLA continue to oppose pre-trial detention.

The Essie Justice Group is a community of women with incarcerated loved ones who through support and advocacy lead reform campaigns to end mass incarceration of women. Essie Justice Group’s award-winning Healing to Advocacy model breaks the isolation and invisibility of the 1 in 4 women who have incarcerated loved ones in the U.S. today.

Dignity and Power Now is a Los Angeles-based grassroots organization founded in 2012 that fights for the dignity and power of all incarcerated people, their families and communities with a mission is to build a black and brown led abolitionist movement rooted in community power towards the goal of achieving transformative justice and healing justice for all incarcerated people, their families and communities.