Kentucky considers putting some non-violent offenders back on th - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky considers putting some non-violent offenders back on the streets

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky is considering putting low-level drug dealers, crooks and other convicted criminals back on the street.

Twenty-two recommendations issued by Kentucky's Justice Reinvestment Workgroup in a new report released Monday are expected to form the backbone behind new legislation created to help curb the rising prison population. But even the report's creators admit they have a hard time agreeing on all the findings.

The biggest takeaway from the report is the idea of changing Class D felony drug possession convictions in Kentucky to a misdemeanor, requiring probation for first and second offenses, with a mandate for substance abuse treatment.

Amanda Hall said, who said she spent around 13 months in jail and prison and wasn't offered treatment for her addiction until her term was finished, said adherence to these recommendations would have made all the difference.

But opinions on the panel are split.

"I don't think we should compromise public safety," said Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken. "I don't think we should compromise justice being served."

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin formed the Justice Reinvestment Workgroup in August as the state's prison population is on track to jump nearly 20 percent over the next 10 years, costing taxpayers $600 million. Leaders expect an increase of 4,400 inmates by 2027. 

With jails and prisons already overcrowded, other recommendations would see more people pending trial for non-violent and non-sexual offenses released and widespread probation and parole reform, including the establishment of a geriatric parole system for inmates older than 60 who have served 15 percent of their sentences, excluding inmates facing time for sexual or violent crimes.

"It is a place from which to start, a discussion as to options for our policymakers," said John Tilley, the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary. 

Kentucky's last attempt at justice reform is lingering overhead. House Bill 463 did not deliver the savings or decreased prison population that it promised in 2011. 

Hall said that, much like addiction, breaking the cycle of addiction doesn't always work the first time around.

You can read the full report below:

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