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Bill under consideration in Kentucky legislature would outlaw charitable bail organizations

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Community bail funds would be considered illegal under a bill being considered in the Kentucky General Assembly.

Charitable bail organizations take donations and use them as part of a revolving fund to bail people out while they’re awaiting trial. A bill being sponsored by Rep. John Blanton would make the work these organizations do illegal. The Republican from Magoffin County said he wants to see more accountability for community bail fund organizations. 

“All of a sudden it’s being used basically as a get out of jail free card from someone who has no interest in anything other than releasing people who have been criminally charged with a crime," Blanton said in an interview with WKU Public Radio.

  Blanton said he hasn’t spoken with any community bail organizations regarding his bill or to get a better understanding of how they determine who to help. According to the Louisville office of the non-profit group The Bail Project, at least 91% of people they’ve bailed out went on to show up for their subsequent court date.

“Everybody wants a better outcome in the judicial process," said Shameka Parrish-Wright, the partnerships and advocacy manager for the group’s office in Louisville. "Our work is leveling the playing field in a criminal legal system that’s filled with injustices,” she said.  

Parrish-Wright said she’s helped people who are being held on bail for $100 or less. The Bail Project provides court reminders, transportation, emergency shelter, and other assistance for low-income individuals needing help getting to court.

 

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