Louisville, Ky-The message at Monday’s forum was clear: the time to act is now when it comes to addressing the rising incarceration rate in Kentucky.

The first step is a series of conversations outside of Frankfort.

It’s an effort to hear from people whose voices might not otherwise be heard.

Lawmakers say it gives everyone a seat at the table to see what’s working and what’s not.

“At the state level we've got to make sure as house and senate that we are addressing issues like restoration of voting rights because in order for people to be whole when they came back into society after they have served their debt they need to make sure they have every single liberty afforded to them and restoration of voting rights act is one of those issues. We've got to look at cash bail this money bail system is not working it's incarcerating people who are living in poverty so at the state level we can seriously look at some legislation around cash bail so there are some issues we need to address as a legislative body," Reprsentative Atiica Scott. 

Breakout sessions at the forum tackled main four topics: entry/diversion programs sentencing reform access to healthcare and re-entry.

A special panel featured Kristen Arant.

She now serves a as peer support counselor after being convicted of a heroin-related offense.

Arant offered a first-hand glimpse of what's at stake if we don't start offer effective solutions healthcare and mental help to those who are re-entering society.

 Arant stated, “I was suicidal when I got my Medicaid notice I had been approved I was ready to end it all because it had been just ten months of beating myself in the head trying out figure out how I am supposed to do this effectively and without therapy. It was never going to happen for me but I was able to get a therapy appointment for the very next day and now here I sit and it's just critical we give people those opportunities it's not fair to keep them from them.”

For a more in depth look at criminal justice reform just check out our series of stories at spectrum news one by using the search tool at the top of the page.