Criminal justice reform took center stage during President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech. He held that it was one of his largest accomplishments, specifically the bipartisan First Step Act which aims to help nonviolent offenders reintegrate into society and reduce punitive prison sentences.
Unfortunately, while prison populations across the country are steadily decreasing, the opposite has shown itself to be true throughout Kentucky. Not only does this have dangerous implications for the non-violent individuals sitting in crowded local jails and prisons, but it also means diverting more money to adequately fund the institutions.
The Kentucky General Assembly has begun reversing this trend in recent years by passing several beneficial bills to aid in combating the broken criminal-justice system, including legislation allowing for more discretion in instances that involve transferring juvenile cases to adult court.
The House has passed bills this session which now await action in the Senate to protect second chances for released inmates, including legislation allowing for the creation of credits toward sentences when a person on probation is engaged in self-betterment steps and the expansion of the possibility of expungements for many Kentuckians.
Several bills have been filed during this session that would continue bringing needed reforms to Kentucky’s criminal justice system that would offer significant savings to taxpayers while giving nonviolent Kentuckians with a criminal record a second chance.
Bills have been introduced bills that would:
* increase theft thresholds necessary for criminal prosecution in order to better reflect the severity of crimes
* seek to limit the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and require reporting of the punishment when it’s used.
Several of these bills aimed at reforming Kentucky’s policies toward juveniles will give children caught in the criminal justice system a better chance of getting their lives headed in the right direction.
We applaud Kentucky policymakers for their willingness to tackle reforms needed in a system which affects so many lives and encourage their constituents to support them in these endeavors. Sydney Butler