KY Policy Blog

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

How Criminal Justice Reform Would Help Kentucky Kids

By Ashley Spalding
December 22, 2016

Criminal justice reform is important not just for adults but also for children, as highlighted in a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). This link is especially relevant in Kentucky given the large share of children with a parent who has been incarcerated as well as opportunity to make needed changes given the momentum around criminal justice reform in our state. If fewer parents are incarcerated — particularly to serve very long sentences — their kids could see improvements in education, better health and more economic opportunities, the read more

Kentucky’s Repeat Offender Laws Need Reform

By Ashley Spalding
November 11, 2016

Last week Kentucky’s Public Advocate Ed Monahan testified to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary that the state needs to reform its Persistent Felony Offender (PFO) laws. This is also an issue under consideration by the state’s Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council. So what is PFO and what changes are needed?

Overview of PFO

Kentucky’s PFO law provides prosecutors with the option of enhancing a felony offender’s sentence if he/she has previously been convicted of any felony crime (if the sentence has been completed within the past five years, the read more

Roundup on Kentucky’s Criminal Justice Reform Needs and Options

By Ashley Spalding
October 11, 2016

Kentucky’s criminal justice issues have been in the news recently. The majority of Kentucky’s full-service jails are at or over capacity, and the state is considering reopening private prisons as a temporary solution to jail overcrowding despite the negative aspects of doing so, which have led the U.S. Justice Department to end its use of private prisons. A related issue is the consistent denial of bail credit in Kentucky, which contributes to the jail overcrowding problem by keeping people in jail pre-trial who should qualify for release; bail credit is read more

Infographic: Why Kentuckians Will Benefit from New Overtime Rule

By Kenny Colston
October 3, 2016

An estimated 149,000 salaried Kentucky workers will become entitled to overtime protections under President Obama’s increase to the overtime salary threshold announced in May, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Over the years, this threshold has eroded, and the change will mean protections from unpaid hours for many low salary workers, an increase in jobs as employers must rely less on unpaid labor and salary boosts for some workers. Recently, several governors, including Kentucky’s, filed a lawsuit against this new rule. But this update to fair read more

Corrections Data Shows Positive Impact of HB 463 That Additional Criminal Justice Reforms Can Build On

By Ashley Spalding
September 28, 2016

The impact of Kentucky’s 2011 criminal justice reforms on the state’s inmate population and budget have been much less than what was projected when Kentucky enacted HB 463, or the “Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act.” In fact, the state’s inmate population is now higher than it was in 2011, and the rate of inmates returning to prison after release — “recidivism” — is on the rise. However, new Department of Corrections (DOC) data shows that there have been some successes with HB 463, which should be built on with read more