Kentucky Proposal Seen as ‘Step Forward’ for Prison Reforms

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A Kentucky legislative proposal unveiled Tuesday and applauded by both Gov. Matt Bevin and the ACLU would make it easier for ex-convicts to get jobs and allow prisoners to work for private companies while they are still behind bars, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Senate Bill 120 would give people with felony convictions the opportunity to obtain professional licenses for jobs like nursing and would allow inmates to earn wages from private employers. Those convicted of violent offenses or sex crimes would not be allowed to participate. Bevin and other government officials have promised to address Kentucky’s growing prison population and overcrowded jails, and the governor often talks about the importance of second chances.

He said Tuesday he supports the proposal, which is part of a broad, bipartisan push for criminal justice reform. “We need a justice system that functions less like a maze and more like a road map,” said Kate Miller, the ACLU’s advocacy director. She called the bill “a great step forward.” The proposal also would no longer allow poor people to be imprisoned if they are unable to pay fines or court costs.

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