From sports celebrities like Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett to music artists like Jay-Z and Solange, Black people in positions of privilege are echoing the Movement for Black Lives call to end oppression within our criminal justice system. Momentum is building and each day brings us closer to ending the practices that drive mass incarceration. And now, Kamala Harris, the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate, is leveraging her power to halt the profiteering and funneling of Black people into jails.1
This summer, Sen. Harris introduced the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act, an unprecedented grant program for communities wanting to enforce local bail reform. If passed, this law will decrease the population of Black people caged behind bars and accepting false plea deals just because they can’t afford bail. Combined with the growing #EndMoneyBail movement led by Black women and femme grassroots activist, Sen. Harris’ Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act threatens the financial security of bail industries making millions from forcing people to pay for their freedom. This is what ‘power to the people’ looks like.
Bail profiteers are terrified that their scheme is coming to an end and are pulling out all the stops to block Sen. Harris’ efforts. Trump lover and President of Professional Bail Agents of the U.S. Beth Chapman even called Sen. Harris ‘un-American’ for introducing the bipartisan bill.2 Beth, who is also the wife of known-racist Dog The Bounty Hunter, is mobilizing conservative politicians and bondsman across the nation to counter criminal justice reform. With the bail industry’s backing, Beth has invested thousands into anti-bail efforts with the goal of protecting her and wealthy bail industry families’ ability to profit from predatory bail loans targeting poor Black folks in desperate times.
Since Mothers Day, Color Of Change has been working alongside Black women and femmes from grassroots organizations across the nation to bail out Black mothers, fathers, queer folks and others who were only in jail simply because they didn’t have the cash for bail. Black communities, transcendent of privilege, advocating to protect their loved ones from the devastation of the bail industry exposes the overwhelming impact mass incarceration has on all Black people. But grassroots efforts like the bail outs and Black women power players, like Sen. Harris are affirmations that we will win!
The bail industry has a lot of money, but we, the people, have the skill and the will to counter any twisted tricks they attempt to pull. History proves that Black people always overcome every nuance, white supremacist obstacle the United States generates to drive a profit from Black pain–whether slavery, voter suppression, or segregation. Now, once again, the power is in our hands. And history is on our side.
Until justice is real,
- “How Black Women Are Leading The Way On Bail Reform” Essence, September 26, 2017
- “Grandfather and Bounty Hunters” New York Times, August 25, 2017