26-year-old Deshay Murphy received an early Mother’s Day gift when her $30,000 bail was posted allowing her to be released from Los Angeles County’s Century Regional Detention Facility for women in Lynwood several days before Mother’s Day. The mother of a 4-year-old daughter, Ms. Murphy is 8 ½ months pregnant and had been incarcerated since April 13, 2018, when she was arrested following a family domestic dispute. Murphy’s release was a coordinated effort of the National Black Mama’s Bail Out Day campaign #FreeBlackMamas that will give incarcerated mothers around the country an opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with their families and build community through gatherings that highlight the impact of inhumane and destructive bail practices on local communities. Murphy joined her attorney and community organizations to discuss the National Black Mama’s Bail Out Day Campaign and call attention to the unfair cash money bail system and bail reform efforts.
“Ms. Murphy’s case illustrates the unjust impact of pretrial detention on Black families, said Los Angeles Community Action Network executive director Pete White. “Upon hearing of her case, LACAN immediately identified Ms. Murphy as someone we needed to help so she could return to her 4-year-old daughter, resume pregnancy in a safe environment, and be home for Mother’s Day.”
White says LACAN hosted a baby shower for the expectant mother last Friday.
Since May 2017, over 14,000 people have donated to bring nearly 200 mothers home to their families and communities in Oakland, Los Angeles, St. Petersburg, Montgomery, Memphis, Durham, Atlanta, Houston, New York City, Little Rock, Charlottesville, Charlotte, Kinston, Birmingham, Baltimore, Philadelphia, St. Louis and the D.C. area. Locally in Los Angeles, community organization Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) teamed up with Creative Artists Agency to raise the money to bail out Ms. Murphy.
“The current money bail system traps Black people and keeps us in bondage,” said Patrisse Cullors, founder of Dignity & Power Now. “It’s that much worse when you are pregnant and vulnerable. We believe no pregnant person should sit in a jail cell under any circumstances. Let’s commit to freeing our folks who are languishing inside of prison because they are poor.”
UCLA Professor and Million Dollar Hoods Project lead researcher Kelly Lytle Hernandez added, “In California, most of us have the right to freedom before trial. But that right comes at a price–money bail. In most cases, the price of freedom will never be refunded. Therefore, we are charging people for their constitutional right to freedom. It is time to rethink our money bail system. Nothing less than justice and freedom are at stake.”
Lytle Hernandez is the author of “City of Inmates,” a chronicle on how native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles.
The National Bail Out collective is a formation of Black organizers who are committed to building a community-based movement to end pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration and includes Southerners on New Ground, the Movement for Black Lives, Color of Change and other groups that have worked to raise nearly $1 million to bail out people all over the country.
The #FreeBlackMamas campaign highlights the impact of pretrial detention on Black families and how states like California’s bail system unfairly punishes the poor.