KY Policy Blog

Report on County Jails Shows Why We Need Additional Criminal Justice Reforms

By Ashley Spalding
May 19, 2017

A recently released report from the state Legislative Research Commission (LRC) raises the alarm around the growing number of state inmates housed in county jails. This trend underscores the need for serious criminal justice reforms in Kentucky beyond the first step reentry measures passed in the 2017 General Assembly.

Kentucky ranked second highest in the nation for the imprisonment of state and federal inmates in local facilities as of 2014, the report shows. Close to half of the state’s inmates are now housed in county jails — 11,000 inmates as read more

Kentucky Moms Deserve Better

By Anna Baumann
May 12, 2017

More than 488,000 women in Kentucky are raising an estimated 919,711 children under the age of 18. These biological, step, adopted and foster moms, grandmothers and other relatives and their children would benefit from policies that better support employment, job quality and economic security for Kentucky women.

Supporting Pregnant and New Moms at Work

Pregnancy and childbirth are a normal part of life for women: national data show that more than four out of five become mothers. An estimated 55,759 Kentucky women gave birth over the last year, 63 percent read more

2017 Session a Step Backward for Kentucky Workers

By Anna Baumann
April 19, 2017

The 2017 General Assembly has ended, but the full impact on workers of several harmful bills passed during the session will play out for years to come.

In the very first week of session in January, the legislature passed “Right to Work” (RTW, HB 1), making Kentucky the 28th state with such a law. The evidence does not support backers’ claims that RTW leads to job growth. Instead, what RTW does is lower wages for all workers in states – by an estimated $1,558 a year in 2015 dollars – read more

Criminal Justice Bills Passed This Session

By Ashley Spalding
March 31, 2017

As the session began, many were hopeful that the legislature was poised to pass criminal justice reforms that would make a meaningful impact in reducing the state’s growing inmate population, associated corrections costs and high rates of recidivism. So where did we end up?

Here are the criminal justice bills that passed:

First steps to improve reeentry. Senate Bill 120 is the bill coming out of the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council (CJPAC) appointed by the governor. Rather than a broader reform package, the bill takes some first steps toward read more

New Version of Drug Bill Would Have Serious Consequences for Addicts and Criminal Justice System

By Ashley Spalding
March 30, 2017

A new version of House Bill 333 passed the Senate Judiciary committee late last night. The bill contains very consequential changes for Kentuckians struggling with addiction, as well as the state’s criminal justice system.

An earlier version of HB 333 increased penalties for fentanyl trafficking in very small amounts — any amount under two grams. However, these penalties would not apply if a person could prove that he/she had a substance abuse problem at the time of the offense. This provision was important because the state’s definition of trafficking is read more

Gang Bill Costly and Missing Effective Approaches to Supporting Youth

By Ashley Spalding
February 27, 2017

Too many in our state have experienced the devastating consequences of violent, sometimes gang-related crime, and our legislators understandably want to do something to stop it. House Bill 315 proposes to address these problems by enhancing penalties for gang recruitment — particularly for recruiting juveniles — and by dramatically increasing penalties for people identified as being gang members who commit certain crimes, while also broadening the definition of “criminal gang” and making it easier to prove gang membership.

While concerns are certainly warranted, such an approach to deterring gang activity read more

What’s In the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, and What’s Not

By Ashley Spalding
February 15, 2017

Senate Bill 120, the bill coming out of the state’s Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council (CJPAC), proposes some positive steps to address barriers to successful reentry often experienced by former offenders when they are released from jail or prison. Here’s an overview of what is and is not in the bill.

The bill includes:

Second chances for workers with records

SB 120 includes licensing reforms that would increase employment opportunities for workers with records by making it possible for them to receive state occupational licenses in some circumstances. Currently the read more

Refugees, Immigrants Important to Kentucky and the Economy: An Overview of the Research

By Anna Baumann
February 1, 2017

From the promise to build a wall paid for by tariffs on Mexican imports and uncertainty about what will happen to DACA (which allows undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children to apply for a renewable reprieve from deportation), to a 120-day ban on refugee admissions and an indefinite ban for Syrians, President Trump’s actions and intimations around immigration have sparked outrage and a national debate.

The conversation should take into account immigrants’ integral role in our economy and communities where they work, do business, pay read more

Mix of Criminal Justice Bills So Far in 2017 General Assembly

By Ashley Spalding
January 18, 2017

With Kentucky’s growing inmate population and high rates of recidivism, what we need in 2017 is legislation that will make these problems better, not worse. The criminal justice bills filed so far this session are a mix of both. While several bills could lead to fewer people being incarcerated or create more ways for Kentuckians with records to get a second chance, other bills would put more people in prison, particularly those struggling with addiction.

Here are some of the bills that could help to provide a second chance to read more

Prevailing Wage Repeal Would Worsen Job Quality, Harm Kentucky Economy

By Anna Baumann
December 22, 2016

Good-paying jobs like those in construction are the foundation of a healthy middle class and growing economy, and a skilled construction workforce builds the high-quality physical infrastructure necessary for  growth. According to a new research report, Kentucky’s prevailing wage law strengthens this important industry, and its repeal would have negative repercussions for job quality, workforce development and local economies in the Commonwealth.

Repeal Would Reduce Job Quality for Construction Workers

Kentucky’s prevailing wage law requires construction workers on state and local public projects costing more than $250,000 to be compensated, read more