Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kentucky's Sentencing Reform Package to Improve Public Safety and Save Taxpayers Money Receives Support of National Groups

National groups support Rep. Yonts efforts to safely reduce correctional costs. Their letter of support is  posted here. The groups include:

  • Crossroad Bible Institute
  • Grassroots Leadership
  • In The Public Interest
  • International CURE
  • Pretrial Justice Institute
  • Prison Policy Initiative
  • Southern Center for Human Rights
  • The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
  • The Sentencing Project

The legislative package offers lawmakers the opportunity to address sentencing reform and save money in 2015 that could be used to provide more treatment for heroin addicts. The package of bills includes:

  • HB 305 - Reduce low-level misdemeanors to violations with pre-payable fines,saving jail, prosecution, and defense expenses;
  • HB 286 -Permit local jailers to grant limited service credits against an inmate's sentence for good behavior and educational achievement, saving jail costs and encouraging  good behavior, and also mandate alternative sentencing for flagrant non-support (instead of imprisonment), saving prison costs and better enabling delinquent parents to work to support their children;
  • HB 285 - Require parole after a fixed period for nonviolent offenders serving a Class D sentence (currently the minimum is one year up to a 5 year maximum; offenses include trafficking marijuana near a school building)  and release for misdemeanants who have good behavior, saving county and state incarceration costs;
  • HB 284 -Adopt of a “clear and convincing” standard for pretrial release decisions and findings specific to the defendant, guaranteeing that defendants who are low-risk and entitled to release are not needlessly held in jail at county expense; and
  • HB 304 - Modify the persistent felony offender statute, saving prison costs and reinforcing public safety by facilitating proportionate sentences that align with the seriousness of the offense.  The measure limits application of persistent felony offender sentencing to specified triggering offenses; give jury discretion in this sentencing; allow previous offenses to be used only if defendant was incarcerated and finished serving the sentence within 15 years prior to committing the present offense.

Contributed Ed Monahan