"Thank you for caring about these children."
"It's all for the babies. I'm happy someone cares."
Those were just some of the comments about how the Glover Foundation gave an early Christmas present to children with parents locked up at the Madison County Detention Center.
Several families whose members are incarcerated in the jail got to see their children and spouses, exchange gifts and visit with Santa Claus with help from the Glover Foundation recently.
Russell Glover, the creator of the foundation and a Madison County sheriff's deputy, said he got the idea for the foundation just thinking of all the people in jail spending time away from their families.
"People judge when they don't know the situation, I try to not judge, and these kids don't need to be punished. They were so very happy, very happy to see their parents," Glover said.
While the event is amazing on numerous levels, it also shined a spotlight on the many who are locked up and will be spending their time away from family this holiday season despite not necessarily being a threat to society.
In the detention center, which is currently crippling Madison County's budget due to severe overcrowding, 80% of inmates are awaiting pretrial hearings, according to Ashley Spalding, a policy analyst with the Kentucky Center for Economic Development. She shared recently with community members that only 42% of people who receive money bail in the county are able to pay it to get out.
Spalding reported, at the detention center, the most common charges amongst inmates are drug offenses and that 76% were labeled as low-to-moderate risk for committing another crime.
Tayna Fogle, ex-felon turned democracy fellow for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, shared her story with community members. She begged and pleaded with local policy and decision makers in the room to do something fast.
"Pay attention to the statistics, I know it is a lot, and they said them fast, but please read the material. Don't wait before it hits your family before you move on it. Don't let it be when that opioid crisis creeps in your backyard that you decide you want a recovery center. These people are not even considered guilty yet, but what happened to fast and speedy trial? That is supposed to be the law."
As numerous jails around the state are overcrowded and draining county and state budgets, our leaders need to make smart decisions fast. They need to realize what we've been doing for years of locking people up isn't working. It's only costing us money and lives.
It's time for a change to the entire justice process.