Community

There are many people in jail who can’t afford bail, but a nonprofit coming to Louisville aims to help them.

The organization is called the Bail Project, and it uses public donations to help bail out people who can’t afford it. The project has sites in St. Louis and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Thomas Harvey is national director of strategic partnerships and advocacy for the Bail Project. He said they chose to launch in Louisville because of its incarceration and pretrial detention rates. Harvey said the project’s goal is to help people deemed eligible for release but unable to pay bond, and to use data to learn how people are incarcerated.

“The way that cash bail has been used in America has been to punish poor people, almost always black people in America – in most major metropolitan areas – and keep them in jail while their case is pending,” Harvey said. “We’re going to be working collaboratively with folks to get people out, get them home and back to their families.”

Louisville’s jail is overcrowded. According to Metro Department of Corrections’ Assistant Director Steve Durham, there were 2,101 inmates as of March 28, with only 1,793 beds. And Durham said 1,620 of those inmates, 77 percent, were being held for pretrial detention. Pretrial detainees can remain for years in Louisville’s jail, unable to leave until their charges are resolved or their bonds are paid.

Detroit is also slated for a Bail Project site, and Harvey said training for Louisville’s site begins in a matter of weeks. The Louisville project will start work in May. More information can be found here.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.