On November 8th, Jefferson County voters elected seven Judges from a slate of candidates Louisville SURJ endorsed as the best choice to serve on the District Court, Circuit Court, and Court of Appeals. Notably, Louisville SURJ-endorsed candidate, Tracy Yvette Davis, beat Judge Mary Shaw – the judge who authorized the no-knock warrant that the police who killed Breonna Taylor used when they entered her apartment. Louisville SURJ selected these candidates for our slate of endorsements after hundreds of hours of court watching, where we tracked Judges’ use of cash bail, noting trends in how judges set bail based on race, charges, and type of representation.
Over 100 volunteers with Louisville SURJ contacted over 2,500 residents in majority-white neighborhoods and distributed tens of thousands of copies of the Judge endorsement slate to Jefferson County voters. Louisville SURJ has been working for years to end the practice of cash bail, which holds people who have not been convicted of a crime in cages because they do not have the ability to pay. Eleven people died in Louisville’s jail in the year before the election.
Kentucky Lead Organizer, Alex Flood, said of the win: “Tonight was the biggest inflection point in our campaign to end cash bail. For years we have knocked the doors of voters and observed judges in the courtroom. With every circuit and district judge on the ballot we saw an opportunity to make an immediate impact on the issue. We complimented our court watch program with interviews and questionnaires and endorsed a slate of judges who could make a substantive and immediate change in the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to be brought into our injustice system. With tonight’s results less people will go to jail on an unaffordable bail, less will experience the cruel, inhumane, and deadly treatment of that jail, and another step towards the abolition of wealth based detention was taken.”
Read more from Louisville Public Radio.