St. Louis' "Workhouse" is notoriously hellish.
Three St. Louis moms will be celebrating Mother's Day with their kids instead of behind bars after a campaign raised $2,955 for their bail
Expect Us, the group that organized weeks of protest following the acquittal of former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley in September 2017, says it decided to carry on the campaign begun by ArchCity Defenders last spring
. Its GoFundMe campaign quickly raised enough money to get the moms out last week.
Cheyenne Green, one of the women organizing the effort, says they sat down with city officials to talk about their interest in getting the women out before Mother's Day. They then chose three moms who were stuck in the city's =Medium Security Institution — better known as the Workhouse. All three had low-level charges, Green says, but didn't have the money to post bail.
Some had been there several weeks, Green says. For others, it was several months.
But all three were overjoyed to make it out. "They were so excited," she says.
The women will be coming back downtown on Saturday, however. On that day, Expect Us is hosting an event in front of the city's Justice Center (200 South Tucker Boulevard) to "show love and support" to the women, "as well as uplift their voices and celebrate as a community." SweetArt, MoKaBe's Coffeehouse and the Urban League have donated food and drink, and the organizers promise performances and activities for children of all ages.
"That’s what we are trying to do here – lift that burden off these moms and get them back to their kids for Mothers’ Day," Green said in a prepared statement. "That’s what community looks like and that’s what we need to get back to – the village taking care of the village.”
Organizations like ArchCity have taken aim at the cash bail system
, which penalizes poor people with incarceration while they wait for their day in court. Critics have increasingly compared the system to a modern-day debtors' prison.
And in St. Louis, where Workhouse conditions are terrible even by U.S. standards
, jail time means freezing temperatures, dirt, grime and insect infestation.
Green says one of the mothers took a souvenir from her jail stay — one sure to leave any pre-school kid wide-eyed. "She said she'd literally bit into a cockroach, so she brought it out with her," Green says. "She told us, 'I got the cockroach!'"
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