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Ky. justice reform coalition outlines 2023 legislative goals

Prison corridor
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A Kentucky justice reform coalition has outlined goals for the upcoming legislative session, including improved treatment for substance use disorder and increased access to charge expungement.

Kentucky Smart on Crime is made up of 14 organizations whose goals are to reform the state’s justice system. Formed in 2016, the group aims to address the opioid crisis and what they called in a statement Kentucky's “overreliance on incarceration.”

According to the group, Kentucky has the eighth highest rate of incineration in the country and is on track to spend nearly $750 million on corrections in the fiscal year starting July 1, 2023.

“After a brief drop in incarceration during the pandemic, we went right back to exceeding total bed capacity in January [2022],” said Jennifer Hancock, CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States, in the statement. “The trajectory is troubling, but there are certainly opportunities for a course correction and a new direction, especially when it comes to how we are dealing with the intersection of the justice system and substance use disorder.”

Volunteers of America Mid-States is a partner organization in the Smart on Crime Coalition.

This year’s goals also include investing in mental health treatment, reclassifying legislation for simple possession charges and reforming the state’s Persistent Felony Offender statute, which is how the state tries people with repeat felony charges.

The legislative session starts Jan. 3.

Aprile is WFPL's health reporter. Rickert comes to WFPL from the News and Tribune in Southern Indiana, where she covered crime and courts as a senior reporter. A New Albany native, she spent nearly two decades in Louisville before recently moving back across the river to Jeffersonville.
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