This article was first published on www.wusa9.com
By Michael Quande
A handful of women locked up in Maryland are expected to get out of jail for Mother’s Day.
GildaPapoose Collective, BYP100 DC, and Progressive Maryland teamed up to bail out women who were arrested for misdemeanor crimes.
It is a part of a nationwide effort called ‘National Mama’s Bailout Day.’
WUSA9’s Michael Quander explains why organizers are fighting against cash bail systems and mass incarceration.
“I walked out through those front doors, and my sons were the happiest children,” Qiana Johnson cried. “The joy that came over their face — my son was actually shaking. He was so happy to see me.”
It was still emotional for Johnson to think about knowing what it was like being separated from her two sons on Mother’s Day.
She was locked up five years ago and later convicted for two real estate theft schemes.
Unlike women currently waiting for trial, Johnson was found guilty of committing a crime and recognizes people may not have sympathy for her.
However, before Johnson was convicted, the 37-year-old said she was one of the lucky ones.
Her family was able to pay $4,000 toward her bond.
“It’s heart-wrenching. You know what I mean? It makes me feel a certain kind of way because I was able to afford bail, but there are a lot of women who are not able to afford bail,” Johnson told WUSA9.
Johnson is a part of the three organizations helping to #FreeBlackMamas in Maryland.
The grassroots effort was planned to pay enough bail money to get at least three women out of jail on Friday which would be enough time for them to spend Mother’s Day with their families.
“These are people that have not been convicted of a crime, they haven’t even gone to trial,” Krystal Oriadha, with Progressive Maryland Prince George’s County, said.
The effort was just one part of a push to end cash bail systems across the country.
In the 90’s, DC stopped holding people on bail.
The bail reform act requires suspects to see a judge within one day unless they are arrested during the weekend.
However, the cash bail system still exists in Maryland and Virginia.
“Poor people -- people who are in poverty, people that are black and brown have to stay in jail. It’s very systematic the way that it is done,” Johnson explained. “They have to stay in jail until their trial or until their case is done.”
Oriadha asked, “How do we make sure that no matter your economic status, no matter your race, no matter even your sexual orientation— none of those make it that you’re going to spend more time in jail than someone else?”
The group said being locked up before trial should be based on the crime and/or threat to the public.
“If I can help another mother be able to be with their child— if I can be the cause of another mother being with their child on Mother’s Day, that would make the two Mother’s Days that I missed with my sons even more worth it,” Johnson said.
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