Concerns raised about criminals having low bonds - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Concerns raised about criminals having low bonds

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Louisville, KY (WDRB) -- Concerns are raised about a Louisville judge releasing a violent, repeat offender.

The offender was one of three people killed in a shootout on Georgetown Place in Louisville on Sunday, March 24.

WDRB talked with the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney, whose spokesman says it wants to shed light on the low bonds in district court.

WDRB also talked to Jefferson County District Court Judge Don Armstrong Jr.

Both had a lot to say about Mark Fields' case - and why he was even on the streets the afternoon he was shot and killed. 

Fields is one of the men who died in that Georgetown Place triple shooting, and it turns out he had a violent criminal record that included pending charges and past prison time served.

"We have an obligation to protect the public, and see that the laws are enforced, and the public will be better protected if the more violent people are behind bars," said Leland Hulbert, assistant commonwealth attorney.

Hulbert says the commonwealth's attorney's office decided to take a closer look at this case because it was a homicide, and he says they were surprised by what they found.

Hulbert says records show Fields had three felony arrests three weeks ago and was let out of jail just days before that deadly gun fight.

"We started getting calls, you know, 'Why are these people out of custody? Why aren't people with guns and drugs in jail?' " Hulbert said.

Hulbert says he believes higher bonds for frequent offenders like Fields could help eliminate violence like the triple homicide.

"The fact that he's already been a convicted felon and he's picking up ten new charges in three days should be a red flag," said Hulbert.

Jefferson County District Court Judge Don Armstrong Jr. says he didn't have a choice in this case. He had to follow the rules set by the commonwealth.

"Criminal law in Kentucky forces me to do things that I don't necessarily want to do sometimes,' said Judge Armstrong.

Judge Armstrong says he also believes Fields' bond should have been much higher but it was out of his hands because Fields was never indicted.

"This says I either dismiss the charge and let him go or I keep the charge and put him on a new bond and released on his own recognizance and let him go, one or the other," continued Armstrong.

Both Hulbert and Judge Armstrong say jail overcrowding is the reason for bond leniency in Kentucky.

"I understand the purpose behind it is because we've got jail overcrowding. In almost every jail in Kentucky we've got overcrowding," said Judge Armstrong.

"We're very aware of the jail overcrowding. If we could have one goal as prosecutors, what we would love to see is the violent people, the people who've had serious felonies, the people that've spent time in prison and re offend, those are the ones that should be in the jail," said Hulbert.

"I don't write the rules. I don't make the rules. I just impose the rules," said Judge Armstrong.

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