AMP: Grassroots²

Marbre Stahly-Butts with National Bail Out Collective

What do you do? We bail out Black Mamas, caregivers and community members to highlight the inhumane impact of bail. We also work with organizations across the country to develop advocacy strategies and policies that will end money bail, reduce pretrial detention and center the expertise of those most impacted in crafting solutions. Lastly, we work to build and sustain supportive service infrastructures that can ultimately replace cages.

What is your why? Why do you do what you do? 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. We are lead by Black women, many of whom are mothers, who believe deeply that are people need care and not cages. We are committed not only to the end of money bail but the abolition of systems that kill, torture, cage and harm our people. We believe that communities are the real experts and are best equipped to name the problems and mold the solutions are pretrial detention. We also believe that pretrial reform must be lead by communities most impacted by these systems not institutional actors or corporate interests, who are entrenched and benefit from the current system. We also know that there is a threat that reform being enacted will not result in long-term improvements in the material conditions of impacted communities and do not address the underlying causes of pretrial detention. We are motivated by the reality that those most impacted should lead and are best equipped to transform the systems we currently live inside.

What moment or experience motivated you to become an organizer/fighter of justice? I came into this work as a result of watching people being caged and harassed. I knew early on that my purpose was to try and change the material conditions of my people and community so they could live their full lives and thrive. The boldness and bravery of young Black organizers in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York and across the country emboldened me to fight harder and without fear or apology. The collective is made up of people who have directly experienced the system- from being incarcerated themselves to watching loved ones languish in cages. It is from this deeply personal place that we do the work.

How has your work been different over the last year? Our work in many ways was a bold response to the current political climate. As Mary Hooks, a leader in the collective and the originator of the Mama’s Day Bail Out, often says our work is a continuation of the work of our ancestors. In light of constant state oppression and violence we are working to free ourselves until we can abolish these systems. Our ancestors created the underground railroad and bought, stole and journeyed their way to freedom in fraught and violent political times. We will do the same until mass incarceration is abolished. The current political climate has made our work even more urgent. It has inspired us to work with immigrant organizations to unite our struggles and name the way mass deportation systems work in collaboration with mass incarceration to dehumanize and harm our people.It has in some ways inspired us to be bold and not wait for political opportunities to come- but instead to create our own.

The ask: Donate what you can to the National Bail Out Day by clicking on the donate button. There are als a number of other ways folks can plug in. If you are in one of the over twenty cities where bail outs are happening you can join a local crew. If you are lawyer you can visit and sign up to join a legal crew- which provides legal and research support for organizers. If you are a social worker you can email us to find out how to plug in with some of the supportive services we are providing. You can also share our facebook and social media posts widely and encourage others in your network to support. Check us out at on facebbok or on twitter.