(Via press release from L-SURJ)
Amid continued overcrowding and the deaths of three incarcerated people in the Louisville jail in the past week, Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice, The Bail Project Louisville, the ACLU of Kentucky, and other community groups are bringing the voices of community members to judges and prosecutors on Thursday, December 9, 2021. We will begin with a press conference at 12:00 noon on the steps of the Hall of Justice at 6th and Jefferson Street and then deliver hundreds of postcards signed by Louisville residents calling for an end to cash bail.
“Incarcerated people are dying. What else has to happen before we’re willing to dramatically reduce how many people are in the Louisville jail?” said Jessica Reese of LSURJ. “The majority of people in the jail haven’t been convicted of a crime. Judges can release more people pretrial instead of setting bails, and police can issue citations instead of arresting people—they’ve done this before, during the height of the COVID pandemic.”
“People who are jailed pretrial often wait months, and sometimes years, for their cases to resolve. They can lose their jobs, homes, children, and critical community ties,” added Shameka Parrish-Wright of The Bail Project. “The Bail Project’s own work in Louisville, where we have had nearly 3,500 bailouts and our clients appeared at 90% of their court dates, strongly suggests that cash bail is unnecessary to ensure a person’s return to court.”
Community support for ending cash bail is growing. Most residents that LSURJ volunteers have spoken with this year in our extensive canvassing efforts oppose bail and sign postcards demanding that judges stop using it. This includes 95% of Black residents, 63% of white residents, a majority of Democrats, and almost half of Republicans.
“The postcards we’re delivering are just a fraction of the thousands we’ve collected during our campaign,” said Bill Allison of LSURJ. “People all over Louisville understand that cash bail is unfair, punishes poor people, and hits Black people especially hard.”
The need to decarcerate is as urgent as ever, especially given the deaths of people in Metro Corrections custody and the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant. In a report released last month, the Kentucky Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Human Rights called for the elimination of cash bail in most circumstances and for a shift in resources from pretrial detention to alternatives to incarceration.
When asked what Louisville should spend money on instead of jails and policing, residents whom LSURJ canvassed this year named education, housing, and healthcare as top issues.
LSURJ has been in partnership with The Bail Project Louisville since 2018 to end cash bail. LSURJ (louisvillesurj.org) is part of the national SURJ network (surj.org), which has more than 175 chapters and focuses on bringing more white people into Black- and people of color-led movements for racial and economic justice.
LSURJ (louisvillesurj.org) is part of the national SURJ network (surj.org), which has more than 175 chapters and focuses on bringing more white people into Black and people of color-led movements for racial and economic justice.