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Louisville Protesters March Against Nation's 'Unfair' Cash Bail System

More than a hundred protesters marched downtown against cash bail
More than a hundred protesters marched downtown against cash bail

More than a hundred people marched through Louisville Wednesday to protest the nation’s cash bail system. Organizers said the practice is unfair to low-income communities and people of color and called for reform.

Cash bail is a system requiring people in jail to pay money for their release before trial.More than a hundred people showed up for the march, which was organized by groups including the NAACP, Presbyterian Church USA and the nonprofit Bail Project. Protestors marched to the beat of a drum that echoed off the buildings and chanted "end cash bail" on their route to the Hall of Justice.

Lionel Derenoncourt said he joined the march because the criminal system oppresses people of color like him.

“We should speak out and protest and do whatever [we can] to change that situation because it keeps our people down,” Derenoncourt said. “This march is only the beginning of a process that will, hopefully, lead to reforms of the criminal justice system.”

Criminal justice is not fair to everyone in Kentucky. A report by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy found the county people are arrested in affects their chances for getting out of jail before trial. KCEP Senior Analyst Ashley Spalding, who helped write the report, said cash bail reform could address some of the disparities between Kentucky jails.

Reverend J. Herbert Nelson II helped lead Wednesday’s march. He said cash bail and the whole criminal justice system should be overhauled.

“It is not fair, and it is not in place to perpetuate the powerful possibilities that the human spirit has,” Nelson said. “We are truly at the baseline of crippling individuals for life.”

At the end of the march, the Presbyterian Church USA announced it would give Louisville’s Bail Project $10,000 to help bail out more than 50 people. The Bail Project has posted bail for around a thousand clients since it started last year, but Site Manager Shameka Parrish-Wright said recently on WFPL’s In Conversation that the need for her organization is growing.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.

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