criminal justice reform

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As Kentucky’s drug overdose and incarceration rates continue to surge, some are renewing the call for the state to reform its criminal justice system and increase opportunities for drug treatment.

Courtesy Bureau of Prisons

The Bureau of Prisons has issued a record of decision signaling that it is moving ahead with plans to build a federal prison on the site of a former strip mine in the hills of Letcher County, Kentucky. But local opponents of the prison say they’re not giving up and are considering a legal challenge to prevent the construction of a new prison.

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Legislation to bring reforms to female prisons appears to be headed for final passage.

The Senate measure got the approval Wednesday of the House Judiciary Committee.

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  Kentucky’s Justice Secretary says he’s not giving up on criminal justice reforms becoming a reality during this year’s legislative session.

Stu Johnson, WEKU

Kentucky lawmakers are being asked to make significant changes in the state’s criminal justice system. Much of the formal capitol rotunda announcement Tuesday focused on ways to reduce prison populations and save taxpayer dollars.

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Kentuckians trying to overcome their criminal past could no longer be automatically denied occupational licenses under a bill advanced by the House Judiciary Committee. 

A record number of people, at least 166, were exonerated last year after being wrongly convicted of crimes, according to the most recent annual report from the National Registry of Exonerations.

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Gov. Matt Bevin's administration is starting a pilot project aimed at making sure more of Kentucky's prisoners get the skills needed to find jobs once they're released. 

LRC Public Information

The Kentucky Senate will consider a lengthy criminal justice reform bill after a Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure without testimony and little debate.  

The measure resulting from months of study focuses on ways to move more inmates into productive roles in society and save corrections dollars.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield said the legislation will improve public safety. “I think it will hold offenders accountable,”  Westerfeld said. “I think it will reduce recidivism and reduce future crime.”  

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Consideration of a substantial criminal justice reform measure will continue next week in the Kentucky senate.

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