Judge Kaelin believes in the power of collecting and using data to guide best practices,

and see where we could stand to improve our processes. Here, you can find data

requested and received from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Use of Surety/Unsecured Bonds

In every case except where the death penalty is being sought, the Kentucky Constitution says judges MUST set bonds. But they do not have to set a cash bond. They can:

1) release the person on their own recognizance ("ROR") on the promise that they will come back to Court;

2) set an UNSECURED bond in any amount, meaning the person signs papers saying that if they do not come back to Court, they will owe the Court the money;

3) set a SURETY bond, meaning someone else can sign paperwork saying that if the person does not come back to Court, the signer will owe the Court the money; or

4) set a cash bond.

All of these types of bonds can include conditions such as: no contact orders, home incarceration, weekly or monthly reporting for drug testing, treatment, etc.

In the year after Judge Kaelin took the bench, she alone increased the use of surety bonds in Louisville by 33%.  In the following year, something remarkable happened. The use of surety bonds by other judges increased by THREE HUNDRED PERCENT. To see the data yourself, click here.

Requests and Issuance of Arrest Warrants


When a person is alleged to have committed a crime, and for whatever reeason they were not charged directly by a police officer, then the prosecutor decides whether or not to file a criminal case against them. If they do, they can then request either a summons (meaning the person is given a citation with a date to appear in Court), or they can request an arrest warrant, in which case the person is located, arrested, and brought to jail. At that point, a Judge will review their case within 24 hours to see what (if any) bond they should be required to post.

Prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers, jail officials, police officers, and other justice partners have been asked to work to reduce jail overcrowding by only seeking incarceration when the person is dangerous, or other extraordinary circumstances exist. But the data shows that this is not being put into practice. In District Court, prosecutors sought arrest warrants in nearly 80% of cases where the highest charge was a misdemeanor. In cases where the highest charge was a Class D felony, they asked for arrest almost 93% of the time. And more often thtan not, Judges grant these requests.

To see the numbers, click here.