Breaking News
More () »

Metro Councilman wants to use city money to pay bond fees

Councilman Jecorey Arthur said in January around 18 people were held in Metro Corrections on bonds of $500 or less.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Metro Councilman Jecorey Arthur (D-4) said his office is committed to providing a Neighborhood Development Fund grant to a local bail charity.

Arthur made announced his position in an online video Monday evening, in response to recent issues at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

Since November, six people have died while in custody in LMDC, including several deaths by suicide. Jail leaders have called for better mental health resources.

In his video, Arthur said he believes the jail needs to be investigated by an outside agency. He also said his office is working on legislation to reduce the population of people incarcerated at LMDC. 

"No one should have to pay for a misdemeanor with their life," Arthur said. 

Arthur said in mid-January, there were 18 people held in Metro Corrections with bonds of $500 or less.

"We free them, we save you money, we alleviate the corrections staff and hopefully we prevent deaths," he said.

RELATED: After 6th death in 90 days, calls for change at Metro Corrections grow louder

Arthur's announcement comes as some state legislators are pushing to make charitable bail funds illegal, through House Bill 313. The bill was introduced to a House committee last month. 

Kungu Njuguna, a policy strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky, said the organization opposes the cash-based bond system and said bail funds help level the playing field.

"We have to remember that the people sitting in jail are presumed innocent," he said. “No one should ever die in our jail."

Council President David James (D-6), who has been critical of LMDC and led the charge to remove jail leadership, said he isn't convinced about Arthur's plan. 

"I don't particularly support using taxpayer money to get people out of jail," he said. 

One local judge has suggested another potential solution, posting on Facebook that she would make a motion to change how out-of-state warrants are processed.

RELATED: Bill introduced to make charitable bail organizations illegal in Kentucky

According to the Circuit Court administrator's office, rules about out-of-county warrants are statewide and could not be changed by a local vote. 

Representatives for the court wrote that "one solution would be a proposed rule change at the Supreme Court level, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine and Chief Public Defender Leo Smith have been working on a proposed rule change that would allow an arresting county to review the bond of a defendant." 

“Anyone who is held in custody at the arm of the state should go before a judge, they shouldn’t just sit there," Njuguna said. 

The ACLU is pushing for an end to cash bonds, a continuous review of people held pre-trial and a system to handle those out-of-county holds.

Council leaders Tuesday said they want more immediate solutions. 

"I was disappointed to learn the mayor wasn't announcing the resignation of Director Clark and his executive staff," James said of a Sunday news conference from jail leaders. 

Njuguna said the ACLU supports any efforts to help people held at Metro Corrections and reduce the population at the jail.

"We applaud anyone getting people out of jail who are dying," he said. 

Wednesday, Metro Council's Public Safety Committee is expected to hear a resolution expressing a vote of "no confidence" in LMDC Director Dwayne Clark and his executive staff. 

The full Metro Council would have to vote on the resolution if the committee votes in favor of it.

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Contact reporter Grace McKenna at gmckenna@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Before You Leave, Check This Out