NAMI - DEI Committee Advocate
National Bail Out - Member
Free Black Mama Fellowship - Coordinator
"All I did was survive domestic violence and have been punished ever since." Tiara Moore, was charged with attempted murder at the age of twenty, due to a domestic dispute with her child’s father. Tiara was choked until she lost consciousness. “All I could remember, when I woke up was being on the floor unable to move, with him standing over top of me.” At the time, Tiara was pregnant with her third child and her other two children ages one and two, were in the other room. “I told myself, you can’t allow this man to kill you and leave your children here to find you.” Tiara says, she had to find the strength to get up. “I got up and he immediately charged at me, I grabbed a knife to protect myself and my children.”
Several hours later, Tiara found herself in a police station with a bail set for seventy-five-thousand dollars. “I told the police and the judge; this man was trying to kill me!! I have never seen a woman overpower a man.” Tiara was young and had no experience with the criminal justice system. “I was only twenty-years old with two children and was pregnant with my third child.” She had no money to post bail and was pressured into taking a plea deal. Tiara was convicted of aggravated domestic battery which is considered a class- 2 felony and non-expungable in the state of Illinois.
Tiara now thirty-six, is considered a violent offender and is unable to have her felony expunged. This stigma has followed her for sixteen-years and continues to prevent her from enjoying the freedoms many of us take for granted. "I have six children and have never been able to go on a field trip with them," says Tiara tearfully. "I must explain to my children, why I’m unable to participant in field trips, while other parents can.”
Tiara never got a second chance!
“When you criminalize someone for surviving; you take away everything! The criminal justice system threw me away. When they threw me away; they threw my children away as well.” Tiara, like many women across America, whom are victims of domestic and or sexual violence, are penalized for surviving. According to a report by the Vera Institute, women’s incarceration has increased a startling 14-fold since 1970. Like their male counterparts, these women are also overwhelmingly women of color. The vast majority of women in prison are single mothers who have been victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. “I asked the judge; 'what would have happened to my children, if I was killed and their father placed in jail?' I would have lost my life and the child inside of me and my children would have been orphaned!”
Tiara hasn’t allowed the unjust criminal justice system to keep her from advocating for herself and others. “I know and understand the importance of building relationships. I have been able to successfully build relationships, that help me navigate my criminal background. I let people get to know me and my work ethic," says Tiara. She still resides within East St Louis, Illinois and uses her platform and experience to advocate for women, whom are affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse.
"I know and understand the importance of building relationships!"
"The criminal justice system wants to pressure you into taking a plea deal," says Tiara. She tells those, she advocates for “we are not taking any more plea deals; we are going to fight this thing!” Tiara knows all too well, the long-term effects those plea deals have on your quality of life and the opportunities that are available to you. Tiara powerfully says “the injustice to one, is injustice to all and we are not taking any more plea deals.”
Tiara is a recent graduate of New York City’s Columbia University with a degree in Criminal Justice. She had the opportunity of meeting Marissa Alexander, whom was convicted of aggravated assault charges in 2012, for firing a warning shot at her husband. At the time, she had just given birth and used the “stand your ground law” as defense. She like Tiara, was punished for surviving. "The justice system criminalizes women for living," says Tiara. She feels it is her duty to advocate for other women in similar circumstances. She is an active member of the National Bail Out, an organization that bails out single mothers. Within the past two years they have bailed out over 13 women. She is also the coordinator for the Free Black Mama Fellowship. In addition, she sits on the board for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) as the DEI committee advocate, and advocates for individuals incarcerated with mental illness. Tiara is using her pain for purpose and is working actively to change the conversation around America among incarcerated women. She is also working diligently to remove discriminatory bail bonds.
Tiara Moore is photographed with some of the mothers she helped bail out in 2020, part of the Free Black Mamas Campaign
One of her children said to her, “mom, you’re always helping people in prison.” In that moment, Tiara was reminded of a quote she saw written in the hall of Columbia University, which says, “Service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on earth!!” She says out of all the quotes that is the one that has kept her going.
Tiara's daughter Zoe is only six-years old and already making a major impact in her community with Zoe's Lemonade and community movie night!