Demonstrators say cash bail is jail sentence to poor

Demonstrators demand reform in how courts order cash bail

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - More than half of the inmates in Louisville’s jail are behind bars because they don’t have the cash to make bail, Louisville Metro Corrections officials said.

Prostesters said some defendants have to stay in jail for a year during their case because they don't have $500 to post bail. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Prostesters said some defendants have to stay in jail for a year during their case because they don't have $500 to post bail. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Wednesday, protesters calling for the end of cash bails for non-dangerous offenders hit the streets of downtown Louisville. Demonstrators called the cash bail system unfair and, in many cases, unnecessary.

Representatives of the Presbyterian Church, The Bail Project and others said reforms are needed to how judges assign cash bail amounts, because low income defendants get stuck behind bars for long periods of time when they’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

“Most cases are three to four court dates,” Bail Project manager Shameka Parrish-Wright said. “But some can take up to a year or two to solve. So you can be sitting in there for $500 for a year while your case is being resolved.”

Parrish-Wright said the Bail Project planned to bail out 50 defendants Wednesday at a cost of $150,000.

“What’s important to the jail is fairer justice,” Steve Durham, Louisville Metro Corrections Assistant Director, said. “And fair justice for us means individuals who are being held in custody simply because they can’t pay bail, that’s not fair.”

Parrish-Wright said nine out of 10 defendants make good on their bail and show up for court appearances.

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