KENTUCKY, USA — State representatives have introduced a bill into the House of Representatives seeking to make charitable or crowdfunded bail organizations illegal in Kentucky.
House Bill 313, sponsored by Representative John Blanton (R-District 92) and Rep. Jason Nemes (R-District 33), aims to amend Kentucky Revised Statute 431.510, which prohibits the act of business as a bail bondsman.
The new bill would make it illegal for non-profit or charitable bail organizations to operate, make bail bonds, or furnish bail or funds to serve as bail.
Essentially, it would be illegal for someone's bail to be paid by groups like the Bail Project, a national organization that helps those incarcerated pay bail. They also provide free bail assistance for protesters who are arrested.
"I think if we're going to bail people out then there needs to be more a background check," said Nemes. " And it's inexcusable not to know those types of things."
Nemes said there have been instances where offenders have made bail through some charitable bail programs and have committed serious violent crimes.
"They're trying to do the right thing and get as many people out of jail as possible so that they can get back to their families and back to their communities and back to their jobs. Those are good things ." Nemes said.
His concern is for those who could potentially put members of the community in danger.
"Especially domestic violence offenses, we need to slow down and make sure a human being brings their judgment to the question and not a corporation," he said.
Kungu Njuguna with the ACLU of Kentucky says the group currently opposes the bill.
"The real question here is that we need to end cash bail because people of means can get out regardless of the charge," Njuguna said.
Those with the ACLU of Kentucky say people with the funds to bail themselves out don't have to pass a background check and bail funds are created to level the field for those with fewer resources.
"This bill again goes to show those with means would be able to get out while those without would not. This bill clearly targets individuals who are clearly caught up in the system without financial means," said Njuguna
Nemes said they are currently working to amend the bill before pushing it through the committee.
Read the full amended bill below:
176 people in total were arrested in connection to protests and burglaries following the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and many were bailed out largely thanks to the Bail Project.
2020 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Matt Kaufmann, was among them, charged with a misdemeanor and thrown in jail after participating in peaceful demonstrations calling for police accountability.