On Monday, January 20, the EBONY Foundation hosted private screenings of JUST MERCY in Detroit and Atlanta. These screenings are the first of several planned across the country supporting the EBONY Foundation’s prison-reform initiative, Home by the Holiday. The mission of this initiative to raise capital to bail 10,000 inmates out of jail by December 31, 2020.
The inspiring yet gut-wrenching film documents the first case of a defense attorney and mass incarceration reformist, Bryan Stevenson. Upon graduating from Harvard Law School, Stevenson, (Michael B. Jordan) moves to Alabama and is tasked with defending Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a Black man on death row wrongfully convicted for the murder of an 18-year-old White woman. The film unmasks the stark reality of many Black men and women in America, pinpointing ways in which slavery has evolved to resemble mass incarceration.
Unequivocally, implicit biases live in the algorithms of the United State’s criminal justice system and though only 5 percent of the country is representative of the entire world, the U.S. holds a quarter of the globe’s incarcerated persons. With the existence of predatory law enforcement practices like “cash bail,” and pretrial detention put to use in impoverished urban communities, national jail growth has trended upward for the past two decades, with the aforementioned factors accounting for nearly 100 percent of the increase.
Subsequently, people of color are overrepresented in mass incarceration, with their prominence in pretrial detention reflecting the remnants of injustice in urban landscapes. In fact, Black and Brown defendants are likely to be held for pretrial 25 percent more than White defendants.
For 75 years, EBONY magazine has been a transcendent pulse of the Black community in entrepreneurship, art and civil rights. In tandem with The Bail Project, EBONY Foundation is using the private screenings in two of America’s “Blackest” cities to raise further awareness of the detriment of mass incarceration and cash bail systems.
Following the screenings, EBONY Foundation will kick off the grand launch of Home by the Holiday during Black History Month. The organization will begin bailing a Black inmate out of jail every day and allow them to share their life’s stories and aspirations at their own discretion during the month of February. EBONY upholds providing redemptive narratives similar to that of Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of Equal Justice Initiative. We believe in restorative, equitable justice and aim to be instrumental in bail and mass incarceration reform. Journey with us February 1 to embrace and be uplifted by the inspiring stories of our fellow brothers and sisters.