PHOENIX - It's a national movement with a Valley connection: raising money to bust mom out of jail. A local advocacy group is trying to hit a lofty financial goal to reunite families by Mother's Day.
"The reality right now is that we have a cash/bail system that's really broken," says Nicole Hale, with the community advocacy group LUCHA, which stands for Living United for Change in Arizona. "If you're a poor person, you're stuck. Being stuck in jail can have serious impacts on a person's life."
Hale says that's especially true for moms.
"If you're a single parent, you're talking about losing custody of children...being put into the system," Hale said. It's something that Hale says happened to one Valley mom.
"She was arrested when she was nine months pregnant, and she was forced to have a C-section in jail."
Hale cited privacy reasons for why she couldn't give us specific information about the inmate, who will be bailed out with money raised by LUCHA. Hale says the mom of three can't afford the $5,000 bail, and there are many more just like her.
LUCHA is fundraising through a YouCaring website. The group hopes to hit $20,000 in donations so they can bail out as many moms as possible from Maricopa County jails.
Hale points out that these women have only been charged, not convicted of their crimes.
As for who gets the money, Hale says they are taking community referrals and will make the decision based on a few parameters: You have to be a mother, a minority, and too poor to afford bail money.
"So, while our cash/bail system hurts all people who are low-income, it's disproportionately affecting black and brown moms," she explains.
ABC15 reached out to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, who told us 1,151 female inmates are currently housed in Maricopa County jails. The ethnic breakdown for the first three months of this year are as follows: 68 percent are white, 14 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Hispanic, and 6 percent are Native American.
Hale says the charges against the inmate will not be a factor when deciding which moms to bail out. Bail can be as low as $500, but it goes even higher based on the seriousness of the crime, as well as other factors.
With several thousand dollars already raised, Hale says the LUCHA bailouts will begin immediately.
"We're starting this week, but will go all throughout May," Hale said.