Courts have contributed to problem at jail

Published 8:16 am Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dear Editor,

Quoting the Boyle County sheriff and just about everyone else in the police and jail side of things, “What we’re doing now is not working … it’s a failure.” Armed with this absolute fact, we know now of the propensity for 4th and Main to almost never allow for ROR bonds to even those who pose no threat whatsoever … (see the AOC report as previously published and reference 31 percent less than state average and the worst by a mile in any county of Kentucky. But wait, now there’s more.

In a report from the ACLU in 2010 titled “In for a Penny: The Rise of Americas’ New Debtors Prisons,” we learn how local municipalities try to fund themselves on the backs of those most needy … our poor population. YOUR jail has become the new Boyle County Debtors Prison. Don’t pay jail restitution fees, fines, etc., and back into jail you go. Don’t pay child support to the Cabinet for the Destruction of Families owing as little as $900 and you’re jailed for six months. Today, some 30 percent of those in your jail are there because they own money solely or as a part of other charges. In a 1983 Supreme Court case, Bearden v. Georgia, the court prohibited imprisoning those who are too poor to pay their legal debt … prohibited it! I guess 4th and Main doesn’t believe in the Supreme Court of the United States.

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This is a really simple fix my fellow citizens. For at least the past five years that I’ve been able to track, 4th and Main has CONTRIBUTED largely to the jail problem we experience today and is complicit then, in part, for the drug crisis locally. Property and violent crime rates have actually fallen over that same time period.

Imagine what could and can still be done with the millions in savings which could have been realized toward helping those most needy here in Boyle/Mercer counties. The answer is out there … and it’s not shackles and chains.

Roger Hartner