While awaiting trial on armed robbery and burglary charges, Lonnie Smith was allowed to remain free without a bond if he stayed out of trouble and checked in weekly. He did neither, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Within weeks, Smith was charged with menacing. He was arrested five months later and charged with assault. Then theft, and last month, with disorderly conduct. Smith was allowed to remain free because, prosecutors say, Kentucky’s new pretrial conditional release program is broken.
They say the Monitored Conditional Release Program, which is designed to reduce jail crowding, is allowing alleged felons to commit new crimes, fail to check in and violate other conditions of their release without consequences. “We have some serious problems with this program now, and the threat it causes to public safety,” said Louisville prosecutor Harry Rothgerber. “It’s ineffective, inefficient and poorly supervised — actually I think there is no supervision.” Smith’s case is one of more than two dozen examples the Courier-Journal found of defendants who were arrested while on pretrial release or violated conditions of their release in the last year. Officials with the Administrative Office of the Courts acknowledged they were unaware of many of the problems until alerted by the Courier-Journal. “We are going to prevent issues like this,” vowed one court official.