ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Elisabeth Epps is an abolitionist with the Colorado Freedom Fund, an organization dedicated to ending money bail. In the meantime, they post bond for people who can’t afford to bail themselves out. Epps is currently serving 27 days in Arapahoe County Jail after she was convicted of interfering with Aurora Police in 2015. She says she was trying to help a man and didn’t want to leave his side when police showed up. On day 14 of her sentence, 9NEWS interviewed her outside the jail.
Where do you sleep?
Epps: I just am leaving from right behind me, the Alternative Sentencing Program Pod. It’s Pod 2B at the Arapahoe Jail, at the Arapahoe cage. It’s a unit with 22 beds, and there’s six women in it. We’re underground, so you go in, and walk down a level.
What’s it like going in there?
Epps: It sometimes feels silly to say how scary it is, because on the one hand I know that I’m safe, but it really is scary. And it’s incredibly depressing. Immediately you hear the shackles and the doors lock behind you.
You do this for a living, you help get people out, were you surprised at some of the things you didn’t know?
Epps: Absolutely, it was both humbling and little bit embarrassing to realize how much I didn’t know…I did not know the restrictions that Arapahoe puts on feminine hygiene products. You are permitted to order those products from commissary…but it also means that you have a 3-10 day wait for it. So even though I ordered on the first day possible, the first day that I could, it was 10 days before I got a feminine hygiene product. And so, I feel like even men understand the math. That’s too late.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told 9NEWS in an email that “every woman in our facility who needs a feminine hygiene product is given a pad as often as is needed…Our deputies are trained to hand these out whenever they are asked for them.” Tampons are purchased through commissary at 29 cents each.
Have you been able to help people you’ve met inside the jail?
Epps: In those first two days I was with women who could be bonded out…While I was still in that [booking] unit I was able to meet women who we as the Colorado Freedom Fund, could help. I, since I was physically in the pod with them couldn’t actually pay it, but our organization has volunteers and so I was able to connect the next morning and give the information of folks who would be eligible to be bonded out…I’m not allowed to actually post bonds myself here. They consider it exchanging money between inmates.
What is it like going to work in the morning knowing you were in that system you’re working to get people out of the night before?
Epps: It is while surreal, what I’m actually learning as an advocate and as someone who works in the legal profession, but also just as a human, deepening my capacity to be patient with people who are hurting, and who don’t have many outlets to share what they’re going through.
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