The Connecticut Bail Fund is raising money for Mother’s Day — but not to buy flowers.
Last week, in collaboration with 10 other local groups including Planned Parenthood for Southern New England and CT Students for a Dream, the organization launched a monthlong campaign to free incarcerated women held in immigration and pre-trial detention. The bail fund hopes to raise at least $30,000, with the goal of bringing 30 women and girls home for the Mother’s Day holiday.
“One of the goals of the campaign is to not only bring as many women home as possible, but it is to shed light on how people are treated inside as less than human, ” Ana María Rivera-Forastieri, one of the co-directors of Bail Fund, said in an interview with the News.
Rivera-Forastieri said the Bail Fund, co-founded by Yale graduate Brett Davidson ’16, has freed more than 100 people from pre-trial detention since its founding in 2016. She said the Bail Fund convened a collaboration of organizations to raise $30,000 last December and brought 30 people home for the holidays. That effort drew inspiration from Southerners on New Ground — a 2017 campaign that raised $200,000 to bail out over 65 mothers in Georgia. The same community groups have reconvened to organize the Mother’s Day Bailout with a similar goal, Rivera-Forastieri said.
Community members gathered Saturday at the Bregamos Community Theater for a kick-off night of live music, a letter-writing station and a panel discussion featuring formerly incarcerated women.
Panelist Terry Allick said she spent a decade in prison starting at age 16, and experienced abuse as a transgender woman in a men’s prison. She praised the Bail Fund as an organization that prevents women from the “injustices” that occur inside prisons.
“It’s a good thing to have this Bail Fund … to help people like us get through these tough times because it’s not easy at all,” Allick said.
Amanda Harrison ’19, the president of the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project, attended the kick-off and said that while YUPP is not directly involved in this campaign, they wholeheartedly support the Bail Fund’s efforts.
The Bail Fund is currently soliciting donations through its website, and will host a volunteer training session on April 11. They will hold group bail-outs, in which volunteers will travel to York Correctional Institute in Niantic — Connecticut’s female prison — and welcome inmates after posting their bail, every Friday in April. Rivera-Forastier said that community support has “amazed” her, and she believes that it will not be difficult to meet the $300,000 threshold. She said the Bail Fund has raised close to $10,000 already, and once it hits that number a local anonymous philanthropist is lined up to provide another $10,000.
Beatrice Codianni, executive director of the Sex Workers and Allies Network, wrote in a letter on the Bail Fund’s website that around 1,000 women and girls will spend Mother’s Day at the York Correctional Institute — Connecticut’s female prison. Many, she said, cannot afford to pay bail, and the inmates are disproportionately black, low-income and disabled.
“We are living in a revolutionary moment, in which perpetrators of violence against women are finally being held accountable,” Codianni wrote. “But too often, transgender people, immigrant women, sex workers and incarcerated women — those who endure the worst state violence — are excluded from the #MeToo narrative. This Mother’s Day, we have an opportunity to stand with marginalized women.”
Isabel Bysiewicz | firstname.lastname@example.org