How long has your chapter been in your city/town? How has your work with chapters looked like over that time frame?
The first inklings of a SONG Nashville chapter occurred in 2015/2016. At Out South that year, the first crew members had a “Put A Ring On It” conversation at Double Dogs with SONG Regional staff members. SONG Nashville started moving work with the Black Mama’s Bail Out Action in 2017. Since then, we have done two more bail outs actions, conducted an Electoral Experiment campaign in the Fall of 2018 to get a Community Oversight Board in Nashville, and organized three court watch trainings in Nashville.
How many active member leaders does your chapter have?
Has your chapter done the Black Mamas Bail Out Action? If so, what have y’all learned about money bail and pre-trial detention in your city?
We have done three Black Mamas Bail Out Actions. Through the bail outs and a court watch exploratory program focused on bail hearings, we’ve learned that the vast majority of individuals who are accused of crimes:
- Do not have any council present at their bail hearings
- Are not present at their own bail hearings, even on video;
- Are not having bail hearings that take into account their ability to pay, despite city policy that states that they should.
What are your specific demands for your Free from Fear campaign?
Win meaningful bail reform worthy of our people: most amount of people released on their own recognizance, no e-carceration, needs assessment not risk assessment, end pre-trial detention, reduce or end fines and fees and court costs
Who are your targets?
Magistrates, judges, sheriff, other members of the Criminal Justice Steering Committee
What wins or successes has your chapter had?
Last fall SONG Nashville was instrumental in getting an amendment passed in Nashville for a Community Oversight Board, a board independent of the Metro Nashville Police Department made up of primarily community members that responds to complaints of misconduct and has subpoena power. SONG was part of a coalition of community-based groups working to pass the amendment. Though this coalition was outspent by 30-to-1 by the counter-campaign led by the Fraternal Order of Police Nashville, the amendment passed with overwhelming public support.
What does political education work look like for your chapter?
Through our court watch trainings, general membership meetings, and bailout work, we have been engaged in an ongoing process of learning about Nashville’s history of bail reform and the impacts of bail on people’s lives. Believing in the need for structured collective study, we are launching a bimonthly abolitionist political education working group that will be open to SONG members and prospective members.
What does arts & culture work look like for your chapter?
Arts and Culture work looks like ancestral storytelling for the Nashville SONG chapter. There are so many hidden stories in Nashville that need to be told, including the stories that can be imagined for the future. If we can do that with an action or with a conversation, we are committing to change.
What to join the Nashville Chapter?