Prohibiting or limiting charities from paying bail for Kentuckians who can't afford it is wrong.
Two bills (HB 313 and SB 313) would dramatically limit the ability of charitable bail funds to operate in Kentucky. Cash bail punishes poor people, crowds our jails, drains local governments of money they could invest in community services, and disproportionately affects Black and brown Kentuckians.
Charitable bail funds are a decades-old community-based intervention designed to respond to wealth-based detention. Oftentimes, they are organized by faith-based groups and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. In Kentucky, one such nonprofit is The Bail Project. Operating since 2018, The Bail Project is a revolving charitable bail fund that has freed more than 3500 Kentuckians who were locked up because they were too poor to post bail while awaiting trial. Charitable bail funds are these Kentuckians’ only lifeline back to their families and jobs.
Additionally, The Bail Project provides the Kentuckians it assists with court reminders, travel assistance, and connections to social services. These organizations do important, life-changing work every day: over 90% of The Bail Project’s clients return to all of their court appearances and 15% of their clients have their cases dismissed or are acquitted at trial. Charitable bail funds like The Bail Project are a humanitarian intervention and a stop-gap measure that addresses the inadequacies of cash bail and the two-tiered system of justice it creates. Instead of trying to eliminate these critical supportive services, lawmakers should be working to eliminate cash bail and develop a robust pretrial service system that emulates the services provided by The Bail Project.
Your Representative and Senator need to hear from you—their constituent—that HB 313 and SB 313 move Kentucky in the wrong direction. Instead of abolishing or restricting organizations like The Bail Project, we must end wealth-based detention in Kentucky and invest in community-based social supports and services that prevent justice-system involvement in the first place.We have drafted an email, but you can change it if you want. Elected officials listen to the people they represent, not organizations like the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. They need to hear it from you.