Kentucky Smart on Crime Holds 2021 General Assembly Preview Forum

New and veteran lawmakers share their priorities, hear from directly impacted individuals in recovery, participate in reentry simulation

Frankfort, KY (Dec. 17, 2020)— Kentucky Smart on Crime, a broad-based coalition comprised of partner organizations from across the Commonwealth held a 2021 Kentucky General Assembly Legislative Preview event on Dec. 15.  The event was co-hosted by Kentucky Comeback, an initiative focused on hope, healing, and a fair chance.  New and veteran lawmakers participated in panels on criminal justice issues that may be percolating in Frankfort when the legislative session gets underway for their 30-day short session.

Legislators shared their thoughts on a number of issues including policing reforms, granting judges more discretion as to when juveniles are sent to adult court, Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) for substance use disorder, raising the felony theft threshold, mental health, administrative release during COVID-19, racial disparities in the justice system, persistent felony offender laws, improving conditions for pregnant inmates, and BR 236, pre-filed legislation that opens up KEES opportunities to qualifying individuals seeking a second chance.

Legislators participated in an eye-opening reentry simulation that offered a glimpse into the challenges Kentuckians face as they begin to renter into their communities after incarceration.  Several justice-involved individuals spoke about their journey to recovery about their experiences with the system, and described what changes and supports could be put in place to improve outcomes and better improve health and public safety.

Lawmakers have their work cut out for them. Recent data from the federal agency charged with tracking criminal justice statistics around the nation again highlights Kentucky’s grim per capita imprisonment rate.   For the second year in a row, Kentucky had the seventh-highest ranking in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics Prisoners in 2019 annual report released on Oct. 22, 2020. Kentucky’s current corrections budget is $633,785,800, making it one of the largest state expenditures.

About Kentucky Smart on Crime:

Kentucky Smart on Crime is a broad-based coalition working for common-sense justice reforms that enhance public safety, strengthen communities, and promote cost effective sentencing alternatives.  Partner organizations include American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, Kentucky Council of Churches, Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc., Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Volunteers of America Mid-States, Inc., NAACP Kentucky, Kentucky Criminal Justice Forum, and United Way of Kentucky. For more information, visit: or @kysmartoncrime on Twitter.

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