We need to continue to push for these reforms if we want to make a difference in our communities
It will come as no surprise to many Kentuckians that America’s criminal justice system is in desperate need of repair. Our nation’s laws should be focused on imprisoning the most dangerous and violent members of our society. Instead, our criminal justice system too frequently traps non-violent offenders, who are disproportionately African American men, in a cycle of poverty, unemployment and incarceration.
The unfortunate consequence of this type of system is an entire group of people facing almost insurmountable odds of ever rejoining society. The injustices within our system are potentially sentencing an entire generation of those who committed youthful mistakes to a future without the opportunity for rehabilitation.
These are serious issues that must be dealt with, which is why I’ve done something not many Republicans are willing to do. I’ve made criminal justice reform a priority. The fact that members of Kentucky’s General Assembly again have put forth criminal justice reform bills this session is encouraging news, and I hope they make these reforms a priority as well.
In the past year alone I’ve introduced bills addressing expungement, voting rights, mandatory minimum sentencing, racial disparities in sentencing laws, the militarization of our police force, body cameras for police, and civil asset forfeiture procedures. And I’ve used every opportunity I’ve had to loudly speak out on these issues.
In 2014, I testified in front of the Kentucky legislature in support of legislation addressing the restoration of voting rights for certain non-violent felons. I was also publicly supportive of expungement legislation for certain non-violent felons.
As I mentioned before, this is something I have pushed for on the federal level, and I applaud the members of the General Assembly for bringing this important issue back up during the 2016 session. I encourage them to keep this legislation moving, continue discussing it, and find a way to make these reforms possible in Kentucky as I do the same in Congress.