Advocates with the group Southerners on New Ground are hosting their annual #FreeBlackMamas campaign, posting bond for five mothers and caregivers on Wednesday outside the Durham County Detention Facility, reports WTVD-ABC 11. “Very excited. I’m ready to see my kids, I’m ready to see my family, I’m happy I have my boyfriend here for my support. And I’m very glad that I met all of these great people,” said Jellisa Green, just moments after being released.
Green said she spent 20 days inside the Durham County Detention Facility after missing her court date. “They have great spirits. They always keep me in a good spirit. They always make me feel good,” Green said of her two young children. Southerners on New Ground, also known as SONG, is using this weekend’s Mother’s Day to draw attention to their concerns over money bond, which they believe prevents low-level offenders from getting out of jail.
“Being locked in here because you can’t pay bail isn’t a matter of whether you’ve done a crime or not. It’s a matter of whether you’re going to show up to court,” said Jazmynne Williams, who works with SONG. “The purpose of bail is intended to get people back to court. And what we’re finding is bail isn’t what’s needed to get people back to court,” said Quisha Mallette, also with SONG.
The group’s efforts come as other civil rights groups target financial inequalities within the legal system. Last month, the ACLU of North Carolina released a report showing hundreds of people across the state have been arrested for unpaid court costs. Advocates with SONG do not factor in a person’s specific charge when deciding whether to post bond. The money is raised through fundraisers and sales. “I really hope for years to come, this organization is still here. I want to be part of it, to be honest with you,” Green said. Last year, the group helped release nearly a dozen women. SONG will host an event on Mother’s Day in Central Park to celebrate the releases and have invited members of the public to attend.