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Aubrey Vaughan Travis | January 15, 2020
Last week, Kentucky leaders on both sides of the aisle pledged to make criminal justice reform a top priority this session. This commitment is welcome given the growing prison overcrowding crisis.
Kentucky holds the dubious honor of being among the top ten states for highest overall incarceration rates, and falls only behind Oklahoma for being the highest incarcerator of women. A significant percentage of Kentucky’s prison population are drug addicts convicted of low level, felony drug possession. Kentucky’s practice of incarcerating these people comes with a hefty price tag that has driven the state’s correctional budget north of $600 million annually. Moreover, it diverts limited law enforcement and correctional resources away from violent offenders. Without reform, these costs will continue putting an ever-greater burden on Kentucky’s taxpayers and economy.
Only a week into the 2020 session, lawmakers have plenty of time to consider a number of proposals that would uphold public safety and save money while reducing Kentucky’s non-violent prison population.
Over the next three months, lawmakers should increase the momentum from recent sessions, and move forward on evidence-based solutions that promote public safety and begin to reduce prison overcrowding.