Gov. Beshear signs bills at ceremony to celebrate Second Chance Month

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FRANKFORT Ky. (WTVQ) — On Friday, in a timely celebration of April as Second Chance Month, Kentucky Smart on Crime, a coalition of 14 organizations dedicated to justice reforms in the Commonwealth, joined  in a virtual ceremony as Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed two important criminal justice bills into law.

HB 497, sponsored by Kentucky Republican Rep. Kim Moser, of Taylor Mill, removes barriers to reentry for those exiting the corrections system.

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HB 497 tasks the Kentucky Department of Corrections with issuing certificates of employ-ability to those who successfully complete programs while in incarceration.

In addition, bill supporters say it incentives employers by providing liability protections. The bill further encourages other important reentry supports such as IDs and better access to health care for people leaving incarceration.

SB 84, dubbed “Dignity Bill Part 2,” was sponsored by Republican Senator Julie Raque Adams, of Louisville. It’s legislation aimed at providing incarcerated pregnant women the necessary resources for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

The bill forbids solitary confinement during pregnancy and a post-partum period.

It also requires the Department of Corrections to provide more data on the use of solitary confinement, provides for six weeks of post-partum care, expands pregnancy medical release to include community-based treatment for substance use disorder, and ensures mothers have access to social workers for possible reunification after time served.

Participants in the virtual event also recognized April as Second Chance Month, affirming the Commonwealth’s support for removing the unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society.

HB 497 and SB 84 are two of six impactful criminal justice reforms bill that passed in the 2021 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Other measures dealt with no-knock warrants, juvenile justice, realignment of the felony theft threshold, and law enforcement hiring and accountability.