The problems that are in the South is everywhere. It don’t matter where you live at or anything people’s always going to judge you. People’s always going to look down on you. You make one mistake, they’re always going to talk about it no matter what. You do one good thing and it’s like, or any kind of good thing, and it’s like they don’t see it. But if you do one bad thing it’s like it’s always there.
My name is Michaela. I’m 25 years old. My children’s name is Shelbie and Cailey – Shelbie’s six, Cailey’s five. My mom she’s still here and everything, thank god. My grandma she’s still here also. My dad, he passed away in 2015. My little brother, he passed away in 2017 so. And then my stepdad, he passed away nine, ten months ago so ever since then it’s just been us. I lived in Augusta for 25 years. All my life is how long I’ve lived here. What I like living in Augusta is about family. Family’s just here so it makes it home.
What I don’t like living in Augusta? Everything. A typical day? Um, waking up at seven and leaving at eight and then having to be at work at nine so that way you won’t be late for a day of work and then, go home and get dinner ready and go to sleep and do it all over again. It got harder after I got incarcerated. Instead of people knowing who you are it’s like, it’s like you were given a title. I was in jail for 15 months. Some days it was okay being in jail but then some days it wasn’t. What was really hard was uh, birthdays and holidays. Really nothing in there seems safe to be honest with you, um. Yeah the security officers you know they try to do everything that they can but, if anything was to happen like medical wise in there it wouldn’t… Yes, you would be scared.
Working with The Bail Project it was amazing. And it really was. It was a blessing and it felt like it was another opportunity for me to get everything done the way that it needed to be done, and it just continues to bring me on to something better. You know I’ve been out for not even, I’m gonna say not even 15 months. And I have a car, I have a job, my children are back in my life, my family’s back and it just seems like, it just seems so much better than what it was. Nomi from The Bail Project was there for me. Well if I call her she’s there. Saying it don’t matter what it is or anything. If I need word of advice, if I just need somebody to talk to, if I need to cry, it don’t matter she’s there. And that is, that is one thing that is amazing.
Every court date that I’ve been to she’s been there. Every time that I have one she calls me and lets me know just so that way I will be there and everything. She tells me every day that I’m, that she’s proud of me. She’s actually became like another mother figure to me. I think everywhere needs The Bail Project to be honest with you. Because you got people out here that don’t have the money to make bond. And that’s not fair to them. People in the South are treated different if they don’t have money because like if you grow up in a trailer, other people don’t want nothing to do with you. They think that you’re trailer trash so pretty much it’s just, money walks and that’s pretty much all it is. It’s a money game. And if you don’t have it then you’re not welcome.
We met with Michaela in Augusta, GA, to learn what life after cash bail was like for her and her family. Michaela was separated from her children for over one year because she couldn’t afford to post bail. While she was in jail in Augusta, Michaela worried about her children’s well-being. She felt sad for the birthdays she missed and holidays she couldn’t celebrate. Incarcerated women face a slew of difficulties, especially when reentering society. Michaela describes the stigma she faced after being released. “Instead of people knowing who you are…it’s like you were given a title,” she said. Watch Michaela discuss how The Bail Project supported her.
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