Kentucky Smart on Crime applauds House passage of expungement bill, encourages Senate to support measure that would save tax dollars, make communities safer
Kentucky Smart on Crime, a diverse coalition of well-established Kentucky business, economic, faith-based and civil rights organizations, commended the passage of House Bill 40 from the state House of Representatives on Friday.
House Bill 40 would allow individuals to seek to have certain Class D felonies expunged after a period of time. Current law allows individuals to undergo a process to have misdemeanor offenses expunged. Almost 100,000 Kentuckians could benefit from such legislation.
“We applaud the timely passage of House Bill 40,” Kentucky Smart on Crime spokesman Russell Coleman said. “We encourage the Senate to recognize the broad, bipartisan support this bill enjoys and give similar consideration to a measure that would save tax dollars, help our economy and make our communities safer.”
The Kentucky Smart on Crime coalition consists of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, ACLU of Kentucky, Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Kentucky Council of Churches, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The new coalition will focus much of its efforts during the 2016 General Assembly on policies like House Bill 40 that facilitate reentry into society after individuals who have been incarcerated have served their time and paid all restitution and associated costs.
“According to Micah 6:8, as children of God we are required to do justice, show mercy, and walk humbly with God,” said The Reverend D. Anthony Everett, member of the Kentucky Council of Churches and pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church. “It will not surprise most people to hear that the faith communities care deeply about love, mercy and forgiveness for all of God’s children. Christians are also compelled to advocate for fairness and justice. As an ecumenical body of faith leaders, the Kentucky Council of Churches believes the passage of House Bill 40 is a great first step toward welcoming back into the community those who have committed low-level, non-violent offenses and have faithfully paid their debt to society.”
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, an economic think tank, applauded the passage of House Bill 40 on Friday and believes the measure will reduce the rate at which offenders re-offend and return to prison and therefore, save tax dollars.
“Kentucky is now a step closer to providing many formerly incarcerated Kentuckians with an opportunity to get back on track,” said Ashley Spalding, Research and Policy Associate at the Center. “Criminal justice reforms like House Bill 40 would have an important impact on people’s lives and the state as a whole — including by creating savings in the state budget.”
The business community also strongly supports the measure, which would give Kentucky employers access to tens of thousands of individuals as potential employees.
“We want to thank Representatives Darryl Owens and David Floyd – a Democrat and Republican – for working together in a bipartisan way to drive a measure that enjoys broad support among the coalition, Governor Matt Bevin and the public in general,” Coleman said. “We hope the Senate recognizes that bipartisan support and passes House Bill 40.”