On Friday, Sept. 1, black women and trans people across our region — including those in Buncombe County — will walk out of jail, freed from cages because of a bailout action by the group Southerners on New Ground (SONG), with funds raised by hundreds of supporters all over the country.
As members of three Asheville-based groups that provide support to incarcerated people around the country and the world, we wholeheartedly support this bailout action, and hope that people who are reading this will choose to do so as well. There are only 48 hours left in this campaign, and we encourage folks to donate to this effort as soon as possible.
The larger campaign goal behind SONG’s action is an end to the cash bail system. When the county names a dollar figure that someone must pay in order to get out of jail while awaiting trial, people who can afford to pay go free, while those who can’t stay locked up. Whatever one thinks about incarceration — that it’s great the way it is, that it needs reform, or that it needs to be abolished altogether — no one can provide a justification for the reality that people with access to wealth walk free while those with meager financial resources languish in a cage. There is no plausible link to public safety there — only the reinforcing of historic inequities, grounded in both race and class, which can never form the basis of any system aiming at justice.
All of our organizations have something in common: that our respective missions to support imprisoned people through letter writing, donation of free books, advocacy and political education exist within a context of absolute opposition to prison as an institution. The cash bail system is but one manifestation of the inherently racist and classist nature of the prison industrial complex our groups all exist in order to struggle against.
You don’t have to be a prison abolitionist to support SONG’s bailout action on Sept. 1, or to believe in ending cash bail for good; the exploitative nature of this arrangement is plain as day, and simply indefensible. However, we do hope that eventually everyone will come to see that a “justice” system based on retribution and the propagation of still more violence (by the State) can never, in fact, be just.
Let’s start by abolishing the cash bail system, and not stop until all the cages are empty.
In solidarity and struggle,
Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross, Tranzmission Prison Project, and Asheville Prison Books