The Bill of Rights guarantees that you have the right to post bail if you are arrested for a crime that isn't a capital offense. It also guarantees you have day in court.
These two principles are now creating an unexpected problem in our courtrooms. People are getting away with crimes not because of who they are but because of who they're not, and the problem is we don't know who they are.
Sixteen Hispanic males from Logan and Todd County were recently brought before Circuit Judge Tyler Gill, and some of the males lacked any form of official identification.
Logan District Judge Sue Carol Browning had ordered the men be held without bond. She said she continues to see the same faces and names in her courtroom and that some of these men use a different name every time they are arrested.
This problem exists in courtrooms all over the country and the result is that some people are able to commit the same crimes over and over again with no penalty.
"I know from my practice that some of them are illegal aliens at least. We know we have a lot of illegal aliens here," Logan Circuit Judge Tyler Gill stated in court.
Browning said she ordered these guys held because she wanted to make sure they were in custody long enough for Homeland Security and the INS to determine if they were in the country illegally.
According to Browning both agencies refused to investigate.
"They have made a conscious decision not to enforce the federal laws on deportation of illegal aliens," Judge Tyler Gill said in the courtroom.
Leilani Krashin works for Kentucky's public defender's office and was sent to Todd County to help represent these men.
"There were people who were suspected to be of illegal status, not
confirmed, being held in custody indefinitely without a court date and no bond," Krashin said.
"What was going on here in the state jurisdiction was violating not only the Federal Constitution but the Kentucky Constitution," Krashin said.
Both Constitutions guarantee that a person has the right to post bail and has the right to his or her day in court.
Krashin claimed that those rights were violated when these men were held without bond. She also said that Browning didn't have the right to make such a decision.
"One branch of government is not supposed to do what another branch of government is supposed to do because you don't want any autocratic people in power. That's not our country. That's not our Constitution. That's not who we are", Krashin said.
Most of these men have now been released on bail and will reappear in district court at a future court date.
Both Judge Gill and Browning agree that these types of situations are happening in courtrooms all over the country. They also said it's creating a system that isn't fair to those people, citizens and immigrants alike, who play by the rules.