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Criminal Justice Reforms Would Address Prison Overcrowding

In the last five years, Kentucky’s prison population has increased 32 percent, according to state Rep. Kim Moser (R-Taylor Mill). Now nearly 25,000 people are incarcerated in the commonwealth.

To help address jail overcrowding, Moser has sponsored a new set of criminal justice reforms that she says could save the state $336 million over 10 years, and lead to better outcomes for low-level offenders who may not require a long prison stay.

“The point of incarceration is to correct people – we call it corrections – and if we’re not really correcting anyone’s bad behavior, then I think that we need to rethink what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” she says.

Moser’s House Bill 396 contains 18 reforms, including changing some Class D felonies to misdemeanors, increasing the felony threshold for theft, and updating bail practices that she says unnecessarily keep poor people in jail. While some opponents contend the bill will be soft on crime, Moser says it’s about being smart on crime.

“We need to be smart about the way that we treat people, smart about the way we rehabilitate,” Moser says, “and incarcerate people we are afraid of, not mad at.”

KET’s Renee Shaw spoke with Moser on March 1, 2018.