Kentucky lawmakers could still rein in charitable bail groups
Kentucky lawmakers failed to pass legislation this year that would have placed new restrictions on charitable bail organizations, but the issue is still up for discussion in Frankfort.
Representatives from The Louisville Bail Project, which raises money to help low-income Kentuckians pay bail during the pre-trial process, made the case for their work in a hearing Thursday.
Project organizer Shemeka Parrish-Wright said wealthier Kentuckians can often meet bond requirements, no matter how high, while poorer residents can face lengthy stints behind bars and risk losing their jobs, homes, or even their children.
"We've paid bills as low as $25, where someone sat in jail for over a months, $200, $500 for someone accused of stealing a can of baby formula."Shemeka Parrish-Wright, Louisville Bail Project
But some on the panel expressed concerns. One is that providing more bail relief could result in judges upping bail amounts to keep individuals behind bars that they don’t want released into the community.
Republican Sen. Phillip Wheeler raised the issue of the potential for increased crime.
"This is a concern for the safety of these communities, and to me, you all are exacerbating an issue that we're seeing in some of these large cities."Sen. Phillip Wheeler (R)
The Bail Project’s Carrie Cole said her organization takes into consideration the context surrounding someone’s case, their history, and whether there are other services ready to support that individual if they are released. If those services aren’t there, she said the Bail Project does not bail that person out.
The Kentucky General Assembly will no gavel in for its regular session until next January.