Offender Treatment Bill Advances in Kentucky

Individuals charged with low-level drug crimes could be diverted to addiction-treatment programs rather than sent to prison under legislation approved this week by Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported March 5 that the measure would allow offenders to get up to 18 months of treatment in county jails or at community-based programs; those who complete treatment would have their drug charges set aside.

Bill sponsor Sen. Dan Kelly, a Springfield Republican, said the legislation could cut the state’s prison population by 20 percent in five years and save $100 million, as well as reducing recidivism. Kentucky’s public defenders and prison administrators support the legislation.

The bill doesn’t include any new funding for treatment services, which would be paid for from existing prison-treatment funds and money from anticipated cost savings.