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.
The legislation seeks to, among other things, reclassify certain drug possession crimes, raise the felony theft threshold, strengthen community supervision, and implement bail reforms. Bill Co-Sponsor Jason Nemes says most of the projected savings come from keeping so called low-level drug offenders out of prison. “Those folks are going to prison for an average of 22 months, without treatment. And what this bill does is it says lets go ahead and get them back in the community with treatment and that’s the biggest savings,” said Nemes.
Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley estimates the savings over ten years to be between $200 and $500 million dollars. He says passage would require more treatment facilities. Without reforms, Tilley says corrections officials could have to consider early release of some non-violent offenders as soon as next summer.