Gov. Bevin Calls for Criminal Justice Reform

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)- With Kentucky’s prison population continuing to rise, lawmakers are looking for ways to get some people the help they need rather than putting them behind bars.

A coalition of lawmakers that included Governor Matt Bevin came together in the capitol Tuesday morning calling for serious criminal justice reform.

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Currently, Kentucky has the ninth highest prison population in the country and is expected to run out of room in its prisons by 2019, statistics
Gov. Bevin along with Justice Secretary John Tilley say show the need for reform.

The two state leaders are urging lawmakers to back legislation that would help control the prison population.

Senate Bill 133 primarily deals with the humane treatment of pregnant inmates but would also raise the threshold for certain felony charges.

An idea Sec. Tilley wants to expand on by making the parole process more efficient and changing many lower level drug charges from felonies to misdemeanors.

But some county jailers say while these ideas seem helpful, they may not bring down the number of inmates as much as these leaders hope.

“Reducing some of the charges from felonies down to misdemeanors that’s going to create more a burden for us simply because we’ll have more misdemeanants in jail instead of the felons and the felons go into state prisons. We’ll have more misdemeanants at the county level, in the county jails,” said Brad Boyd, president of the Kentucky Jailers Association.

In addition to Senate Bill 133, Gov. Bevin says he expects another bill dealing with criminal justice reform to drop sometime this week.