Opening a Community Bail Fund: Reflections from Chanelle Helm

When I began this work, of liberating folks, I did so from the mindset of only believing that I had the skills to support those that were close to freedom. The folks that aren’t restrained or living in limited legal capacity. It was hard then, as it is now, to help those locked up to find paths to freedom. However, if I am to commit myself to the struggle of liberation, I can do that with my people- wherever they are.

Everyday I meet folks from various parts of the liberation spectrum. From those that have it all figured out and are ready to complete a role in our fight for liberation to those that don’t understand what we would need to be any more free than what we are. My biggest struggle is for those community members that are asking for my help that are legally tied up. How do we make sure that the carceral state doesn’t condition us to accept our community’s faults as only punishable by incarceration?

That is the hardest. When we decided to open a community bail fund, we knew we wanted it to be the space to hold our work and help folks once they left jail/prison, but we also knew it would be a space that we want to free people and prevent people from going to jail/prison. To make sure our community members are supported, make sure volunteers from various backgrounds support our bail out fam by driving, checking on the family, support organizers, fundraise and admin. All these things are super supportive for a bail out member. We’ve supported roughly 10 to 13 folks- give or take their opinion on what support is lol. We’ve paid peoples fines, found them lawyers, bailed 3 people out, and put our bodies in the way of folks being arrested. Our Louisville Community Bail Fund supports our bail out community with food, jobs, and counseling.

This is why we knew it was the right thing to fight for wanting to raise bail for Da’Arria Hayden. Da’Airra is a 16 yo who is charged with first-degree murder for murdering her 53-year-old male aggressor at 14 years old.

Da’Arria attended Western Middle School, a visual and performing arts magnet, and was a successful student. Even during her incarceration, Da’Arria has managed to continue to excel in her schoolwork and studies. In addition to her good academic standing, she comes from a supportive household where both parents and siblings act as a continued source of encouragement and stability.

Although Da’Arria and her family find themselves in a uniquely challenging situation, this is not their first time having to support the teen youth through difficulties. Da’Arria is a type one diabetic and has a history of depression, increasing her needs in an already tumultuous period, as a teenager. It is during this time that she has endured 2 years of jail time at the Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services. And her endurance can mostly be accredited to the support network of her family, who continues to uplift her through these immensely challenging times, particularly in the beginning of her incarceration when healthcare services were absent and she was held in solitary confinement]. Unfortunately, the circumstances of Da’Arria’s mistreatment is very common in Louisville, KY, even for the young and vulnerable.

If you would like to donate to the LCBF, please read over our manifesto and click here