A Kentucky policy institute is pushing state lawmakers to address criminal justice reform during the next legislative session. The left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy hopes to see movement on a bail reform bill pre-filed for Kentucky’s 2019 legislative session.
The bill would overhaul how the state imposes monetary bail. Under the measure sponsored by eastern Kentucky Republican Representative John Blanton, a court would assess whether a defendant is at risk of failing to appear in court or is a danger to the public before imposing a cash bail.
KCEP Executive Director Jason Bailey said the legislation could help the economy and reduce overcrowding in jails across the state.
“By no longer burdening local governments with holding these people and letting them live in the community and live in their home in their regular lives, it will save money for local communities if we do bail reform,” he told WKU Public Radio.
Bailey said the current system disproportionately impacts lower income individuals by keeping them incarcerated only because they can’t afford to post bail.
“That’s just leading to more overcrowding, it’s causing people to lose their jobs who may end up being innocent, as we have a presumption of innocence in our justice system," he said.
Bailey said having fewer people in jail on bail would mean less stress on local government budgets. He said it would also result in more people staying in their community and contributing to their local economy.