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The Latest from Brooklyn Community Foundation


We're Celebrating Mother's Day by Bailing Out Black Moms

Update (May 10, 2018):

The Mama's Bail Out NYC campaign met our match in just 24 hours, so we're doubling our support to $10,000!

So far, VOCAL-NY has bailed out six mothers, including two who are pregnant. 

It’s almost Mother’s Day and to celebrate, we’re pledging a $5,000 match from our Community Fund to support VOCAL-NY's Mama's Bail Out NYC campaign!

VOCAL-NY has already blown past their initial goal to raise $30,000 by May 11, and now we are stepping up to match any additional donation they receive, up to $5,000 total. VOCAL-NY will help get as many local black mothers out of jail as possible in time for them to spend Mother’s Day with their families and communities. 

More than half of people held in New York City jails are there because they can’t afford to post bail before their trial. Many face the option to plead guilty to a crime they may not have committed or to wait weeks or months in jail for their court date. According to our grantee Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, “individuals are 9 times more likely to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and leave with a criminal record if they are stuck in jail on bail.” If they choose to wait until their court date, they may lose their jobs or housing, or their children may be placed in foster care.

Even those accused of low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors, for which New York City District Attorneys have said they will order prosecutors to stop setting cash bail, are still being sent to Rikers because they are unable to come up with the money to go home.

The Mama's Bail Out NYC campaignpart of the National Black Mama's Bail Out Dayhighlights the intersections of race, gender, and class and their impact on black women’s experiences in the criminal justice system. Factors like profiling, pay gap, and poverty can determine who has access to the resources to make bail.

Nationwide, groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter and the National Bail Out movement are working to support black moms and others, including trans women, who play important roles as members and caretakers of their communities.

As Alyssa Aguilera, VOCAL-NY’s co-executive director, said in an interview with The Outline, “Something like 80, 90 percent of incarcerated women are also caretakers—they’re mothers. So when they’re in jail, it’s also their families, their children, who are experiencing the trauma of incarceration.

Our $5,000 match will specifically help provide bail for those who aren't able to access support from Bail Funds, which are limited to bails set under $2,000 and misdemeanor charges. 

This contribution to Black Mama Bail Out Day goes hand in hand with our focus on racial justice and criminal justice reform. In 2017, we granted $35,000 from our Invest in Youth Initiative to Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, which has helped more than 2,600 New York residents fight their cases outside of jail, and $30,000 to JustLeadershipUSA to advocate for the closure of Rikers Island. Additionally, last fall we made a grant to Youth Represent in support of the Back to School Bail Out to get young people off of Rikers Island before the start of the 2017-18 school year. 

Learn more about supporting the Mama's Bailout NYC campaign here.

This post is co-authored by Maria Ylvisaker

More than half of people held in New York City jails are there because they can’t afford to post bail before their trial.