When a judge sets bail for an arrested person, she is putting a price on freedom. For Black, Brown, and working-class people, this price may be too high to pay. They will stay locked up pre-trial – perhaps for months or years — while wealthier individuals stay free. Jailed defendants are more likely to lose their jobs and their home. Their children may be displaced from school settings. And, they are more likely to plead guilty just to secure freedom, regardless of the evidence against them. In North Carolina, rural counties are driving mass incarceration in their jails. Emancipate NC is working on concrete bail reform and arrest reform policies to curb pre-trial detention.
In our community education work, we collaborate with Black communities that are suffering from criminalization, incarceration, and structural racism. Their neighborhoods are over-policed and their members are over-arrested. Magistrates set high cash bail for the simplest crimes. Then they are coerced into pleading guilty so they can secure freedom from jail. They are also disproportionately punished to harsh sentences, and they are displaced from their friends, families, children, jobs, and homes. They are traumatized in body and in mid. Prison is state violence and it magnifies pain for all parties. Through restorative justice education, we are committed to replace criminalization and incarceration with alternative approaches that address violence and repair harm.
Subverting Structural Racism
Structural racism is the systematic distribution of resources, power, and opportunity in our society to the benefit of people who are white and the exclusion of people of color. It is not the same as individual bigotry or racial bias. The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow persist. American history continues to privilege “whiteness” in terms of access to quality education, decent jobs and liveable wages, homeownership, retirement benefits, and wealth. Black youth are criminalized and dehumanized through over-policing and zero tolerance school policies. Capital punishment and solitary confinement are disproportionately conferred on Black bodies. Cash bail means that poor people—usually people of color—can’t buy their freedom, even when white people get out of jail. Through community education, we work to subvert structural racism, especially as it relates to the criminal legal system.
About Emancipate NC
Emancipate NC was founded in 2019 on the knowledge that mass incarceration and structural racism harm all of us. Prison is state-sponsored violence. We are all complicit in its harms. As an organization, we are dedicated to shifting the narrative on racialized mass incarceration through community education and mobilization. The mainstream narrative that criminalizes Black and Brown people must be transformed—so that we can all get free. Emancipate NC is a project of the Carolina Justice Policy Center. To learn more, please contact Elizabeth Simpson at email@example.com.