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Official Black Lives Matter Memphis launching drive to get moms out of jail for Mother’s Day

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Official Black Lives Matter Memphis launched a new effort to pay bail for black moms in jail by Mother's Day.

Shay Jones is a member who also knows what it’s like to be a mom behind bars.

"At the time my child was four years old. She had to deal with her mom. I had to go to court five or six times," she said.

Ten years later she’s part of the new campaign to help other moms in a similar situation, who might not have the same resources she had.

“I have had personal experience with it and I do know it creates a hardship to have to come up with $1,000 for something that ultimately was dismissed,” she said. “It’s really about the fact that these people’s freedom has been taken from them because they do not have money.”

Bail is a set amount that's only supposed to act as insurance for people showing up to court. It does not indicate whether someone is innocent or guilty.

“If you a black mama, you're in jail, you talking to us, then you're eligible," organizer Erica Perry said.

Their goal was to raise $35,000 to help as many women as possible get back to their kids.

"We’re asking our community members to think how they spend Mother's Day, how they celebrate and honor the women who they love," Perry said.

They’re focusing in Shelby County where records show nearly 274 women are in jail waiting for trial. Sixty of those women, or nearly one-fourth, are in for misdemeanor crimes. Those can include driving with a suspended license and truancy.

"It's about the fact that these people’s freedom has been taken from them because they do not have money. I think inherently that’s not what we stand for as a country, as individuals. It’s not moral. And going into Easter weekend, it’s definitely not Christian," Jones said.

If you'd like to donate or help a family member who's in jail, contact the group at blacklivesmattermemphis@gmail.com.