Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kentucky Penal Code Reform Bill Filed

Newspaper coverage of the bill

Louisville Courier Journal  Bills aim to cut prison costs, improve drug treatment

Lexington Herald Leader Kentucky drug laws would change under new proposal

Below is a summary of the bill by former Public Advocate Ernie Lewis ( caveat - I have been reviewing numerous drafts, and could easily have made a mistake in the summary. If you have a question about a provision, please go online to read the entire bill.) HB 463 and SB 161

There are several very progressive reforms undertaken in this legislation, including the following:

  • Establishes quantities for trafficking in controlled substances.
  • Changes the 1000 yards to 1000 feet in 218A.141.
  • Eliminates the enhancer for possessory drug offenses. 
  • Lowers penalties for trafficking 2nd, creating a mini-Class D for first offenses.
  • Lowers penalties for trafficking 3rd.
  • Lowers penalties for possession 1st to a mini-Class D.
  • Creates deferred prosecution as a preferred alternative for possession 1st cases and 2nd, with presumptive probation as the other alternative.   Presumptive probation is required for second offenses unless the person is ineligible.
  • Marijuana possession is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by 1-45 days.
  • Significant changes are made to pretrial release.  For example, if presumptive probation is the possible sentence, the court must release the defendant on an OR or unsecured bond unless written findings are made.
  • Deferred prosecutions are created similar to pretrial diversion.
  • Evidence based practices, including the use of risk and needs assessments, permeate the bill.  This is especially so for probation and parole. 
  • Changes are made to eliminate double enhancements.  Possession cannot be PFO'd, although it can be used as a prior.
  • Citations will be required for all Class B misdemeanors and most Class A misdemeanors. 
  • Pretrial release is changed significantly.  If a person is indigent he must be released on an OR or unsecured bond unless he is not a flight risk, a danger to himself or others, or unlikely to appear for trial. 
  • A system of graduated sanctions is created for persons on probation and parole whereby revocations won't have to take place.  Probation and Parole will also have an administrative caseload with lesser supervision and an early means of termination for persons on probation.