KENTUCKY- Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Adam Edelen laid out his plan for criminal justice reform in Kentucky.
He is calling them his "Next Step Kentucky" reforms to repair deficiencies in the system. The plan focuses on five things. First is reforming the cash bail system to prevent low-income Kentuckians from being held in jail because they can't afford their bail.
Currently, there is a bill in the General assembly to address changing the pretrial system. HB 94, sponsored by Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, would do that by not relying solely on a cash bond as a means for release. When asked if he supported that bill, Edelen said he wasn't aware of the bill.
"I haven't spent time with that bill, but I will check it out," he said. "My concern is we have too many people who are stuck in prison because they are poor, and I don't think that makes sense morally, and it doesn't make sense in terms of effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars. What we want to be careful to not do is t constrain the ability of local judges to administer justice in their courtroom. We don't want to go so far in the other direction that we constrict what their options are like we have with mandatory minimums."
Another key principle of the criminal justice reform plan is automatic restoration of voting rights for felons who have completed their time.
"I'm so committed to this, if the legislature won't act when I'm governor, I will," he said. "If it means getting the worst case of carpel tunnel a Kentucky Governor's ever had, then I will do it as I sign my name to 312,000 restoration of voting rights documents in Kentucky."
Edelen went on to say you can't have a two-tiered system in Kentucky.
"For non-violent offenders who have paid their debt to society they deserve to be fully restored and that's an important thing to do," he said. "And it's something we will do."
Governor Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, has said this is something that needs to be done through a constitutional amendment to allow voters to decide, Edelen doesn't agree with that.
"I simply don't believe that," he said. "I believe the governor has the right to restore voting rights and other civil rights with his signature, and that's something I will do as governor if the legislature doesn't act."
The other three parts of the plan are ending the subsidizing of Kentucky's for-profit prisons, conducting a comprehensive review of probation and parole policies to reduce technical violations, and ending recidivism through greater engagement of community and faith leadership.