Many moms stuck in jail are too poor to afford bail. These activists decided to fix that.

Theresa was arrested in April, and without the $5,000 she needed to post bail, she couldn't leave the holding facility in Estrella, Arizona, until after her trial.

Theresa (whose last name is not being published to protect her privacy ahead of her trial) was nine months' pregnant with her third child when she was arrested. Instead of being surrounded by family and friends, she gave birth in jail, and her child was immediately taken by the department of child safety.

Even though Theresa hadn't been convicted of a crime, she was held in jail until May, when her friend came to take her home before Mother's Day. She was speechless.


Photo courtesy Analise Ortiz, ACLU of Arizona, used with permission.

Theresa's friend came up with her bail money with the help of dozens of community groups nationwide that are working to bail women out of jail in time for Mother's Day.

The initiative, in collaboration with Black Mama's Bail Out and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), also aims to raise awareness about America's growing mass incarceration problem — and how to fix it.

Theresa is one of the 1,400 women who give birth while incarcerated annually in the United States. These women have to work through bureaucratic processes to get their babies back.

"She's currently taking the steps she needs to take to get her baby back, but it's definitely going to be a fight," says Nicole Hale, community organizer for Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), one of the grassroots nonprofits working with the cross-country initiative. LUCHA has raised nearly $10,000 to pay the bail of mothers who are in jail.

More than 200,000 women in the U.S. are currently in jail or prison — one of the highest rates in the world — and 80% of those women are mothers.

And while black and Hispanic people make up 32% of the U.S. population, they represent 56% of those who are incarcerated.

Those numbers don't lie: The system disproportionally affects people of color and America's poor.

The Estrella Jail in Maricopa County, Arizona. Photo by Camaron Stevenson.

"Even spending a few days in jail has a profound impact on people's lives," says Will Gaona, policy director for the ACLU of Arizona. "Especially for those with low incomes, they're likely to lose their jobs, they may lose their housing, they're in danger of losing custody of their children."

The current cash bail system is part of the problem, Gaona says. It's inefficient and expensive and has a huge, negative effect on low-income individuals.

"We've accepted the idea that the government can hold people in jail — who are legally presumed to be innocent — only because they're poor," he says.

What's more, a study by the New York City Criminal Justice Agency found that conviction rates skyrocketed from 50% to 92% for individuals who are jailed pretrial.

"When you're in jail, you're stuck," Hale says, "for a lot of people who can't afford to pay bail, they don't really have another option other than to take a plea agreement."

Hale says the Mother's Day bailout is an opportunity to shed light on the problems with the cash bail system and inspire people to do what they can to fight it.

She says if you want to get involved, you can donate to the bail fund, refer mothers in need of bail by texting "CHANGE" to 94502, and share information about the event with friends and family.

"Every donation goes a long way," Hale says. "Once [Theresa's] case is finished, we'll get that $5,000 back, which turns into a larger, permanent bail fund that can benefit the whole community."

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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