Gov. Bevin names bi-partisan council to 'fix' criminal justice system
A 22-member panel will make recommendations before 2017 legislature convenes.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Matt Bevin has formed a new Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council to make recommendations for reforming the criminal justice system, and the members say everything is on the table.
“I was elected to fix things that are broken,” said Bevin, as he announced plans to fix the way Kentucky does crime and punishment.
“Criminal justice here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky has not been as effective as we would hope it to have been,” he said.
Right now, there are more than 23,000 people in state prisons.
Gov. Bevin's new council will look at ways to reduce that number, including more options for sentencing and more treatment for drug offenders.
“We are not doing what we should do to cut re-offense rates, to allow folks to recover, to knock down those barriers that exist when they leave the prison,” said Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley, who will chair the panel.
Two decades ago, West Powell spent time in prison for a minor burglary.
He's now doing well, but hopes the council will recommend programs to make it easier for ex-felons to get back on their feet and not return to prison.
“Give these people coming out of jail something to fight with," Powell told WDRB. "We’re coming out defenseless. The only thing that changes from going in and out is your age. They’re not giving you any kind of job training, no education."
Bevin says reform is the right thing to do and will save money.
But he says he will not accept any recommendation that he thinks might compromise public safety.
“The greatness of America, the greatness of the Commonwealth is the fact that we are a nation of laws. These things matter. I want to make sure that’s very, very clear. But that said, there are smarter and better ways we can go about the application of those laws,” Bevin said.
The 22-member council has an ambitious schedule. It must make recommendations before the General Assembly returns in January.
The council members are as follows:
- Chairman John Tilley, Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
- Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
- Derrick Ramsey, Secretary of the Labor Cabinet
- Sen. John Schickel, R-Union
- Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville
- Rep. Denny Butler, R-Louisville
- Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills
- Dr. Allen Brenzel, Department of Behavioral Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
- Judge David A. Tapp, 28th Judicial Circuit Court, Division 1
- Judge-Executive Tommy Turner, LaRue County
- Amy Milliken, Warren County Attorney
- Courtney Baxter, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Oldham, Henry, Trimble counties
- Rick Sanders, Kentucky State Police Commissioner
- Damon Preston, Deputy Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy
- Russell Coleman, Spokesman for Kentucky Smart on Crime
- Tom Jensen, Attorney, retired Judge and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United
- Jason Woosley, Grayson County Jailer
- Bob Russell, Retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church
- Bishop William Medley, Diocese of Owensboro
- Dave Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
- Justice Daniel J. Venters, Supreme Court of Kentucky, 3rd District
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