LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The local Louisville public defender’s office is seeking the release of 14 inmates who it says were detained unlawfully and are being held on low bonds in Louisville’s overcrowded jail.
Petitions filed Tuesday allege that Jefferson County District Court judges are violating defendants’ rights by not considering their ability to post bond when setting bail, The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/2dkxYKv) reported.
According to the petitions, most of the defendants have cash bonds less than $5,000 that they can’t pay.
The public defenders argued that the judges aren’t issuing enough bail credits to eligible defendants for time served behind bars under a state law meant to help free up jail space.
Data from the state Administrative Office of the Courts provided in the petition showed that only 77 people were reported as having received bail credit by a judge in the last 12 months. Yet nearly 9,500 defendants were eligible to receive the credit.
“When a given defendant has a 99.19% chance of being denied bail credit, the court has abandoned any exercise of discretion,” the petition noted.
District Court Judge David Holton said many factors of a case and a defendant’s history are taken into consideration during the bond setting process.
“I believe our judges set what they deem to be good and reasonable bonds based on the charges they have before them and what they perceive to be in the best interest of safety in the community and a bond that will more likely ensure the defendant’s reappearance in court,” Holton said. He didn’t comment specifically on the petitions.
The filings come as Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said the jail is nearing 2,200 inmates.
County attorney’s office spokesman Josh Abner said they’re reviewing the petitions.
“Even just at a cursory glance, we’re seeing some defendants who could be a serious public safety risk and we want to make sure we have the appropriate amount of time to look over these cases,” Abner said.
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com