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Just in time for Mother’s Day, bailouts from the Mecklenburg County jail

A person goes through initial processing at the booking desk of Mecklenburg County Jail Central.
A person goes through initial processing at the booking desk of Mecklenburg County Jail Central. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Local supporters of a national campaign say they have obtained the release of six women from Mecklenburg County’s jail in time for Mothers Day.

The Mamas Bail Out Day is being organized by a number of organizations in 18 U.S. cities, including Charlotte, Durham and Kinston says the website nomoremoneybail.org/.

The site says the action “will bail out as many mothers as possible who otherwise would spend Mother’s Day in a cell simply because they cannot afford bail.” Black women are more likely than white women to be incarcerated, it says, and transgender women often report being sexually assaulted in jails.

Organizers in Charlotte said they bailed out five black women on Wednesday night, a sixth on Thursday and planned to pay for the release of another woman Friday.

lastrapes
Kiesha Lastrapes Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office

“The feeling is indescribable,” said Kiesha Lastrapes, 43, who will spend Sunday with her 4-year-old son. “It’s going to be joyous, happiness, loved-filled, it’s going to be refreshing. I really thought I was going to spend time in jail and not see my son. When these women did what they did, to be honest with you, I’m still in shock.”

One of the Charlotte organizers, Alicia Bell of Free Press, a group that works on racial justice issues, said about $21,000 was raised by national and local fundraising to bail out women in Charlotte. Most of the women released had been held for one or two months, she said, and none had been charged with violent crimes.

“It’s a lot of driving without a license, loitering, failure to appear, probation violations,” Bell said. “That’s part of the reason we decided to do this: there are so many people who would be able to post bail if they had the money; they just don’t have the money. It amounts to a sort of poor-peoples prison.”

Lastrapes said she had been held under $2,000 secured bond since April 27 and, with no one to bail her out, expected to stay in jail until her court date in June. She said she faces charges of misdemeanor breaking and entering and failing to appear for a court date.

Lastrapes said she and a boyfriend were homeless last November when police found them in an unoccupied house. She then missed a court date.

The judge “was like, since you like to miss court dates so much, you’re going to stay here until June 2,” she said.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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