The Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition (KY SOC) announces the addition of three new coalition members: Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc., Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Volunteers of America Mid-States, Inc.

Joining the eight current members, American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Council of Churches, and Kentucky Youth Advocates, these organizations will advocate common sense criminal reforms to enhance public safety, strengthen communities, and save tax dollars.

Kentucky’s leading voices on sexual and domestic violence issues are important new members to KY SOC.  Too often, the voices of crime survivors have been ignored or left on the periphery of criminal justice reform conversations.

“The Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs is pleased to be a new member of KY SOC. It is crucial to include the voices of victims and victim-serving organizations as Kentucky seeks to improve and reform our criminal legal system, not only to better serve victims but also to address other forms of oppression which can lead to increased risk of sexual violence,” said executive director Eileen Recktenwald. “Additionally, we know that some victims of sexual violence turn to a coping mechanism such as substance use which can lead them into the criminal legal system. Our place in KY SOC will help center and enhance these conversations. We look forward to this partnership.”

“It’s not unusual for victims of domestic violence to face criminal charges related to their abuse, and we know that a large percentage of inmates have experienced intimate partner violence,” said Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence executive director Sherry Currens. “We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the conversation about reducing Kentucky’s incarceration rate.”

Data shows low-level drug offenses are driving Kentucky’s rising incarceration rates.  We know that treatment can stop the cycle of incarceration and recidivism.  Volunteers of America Mid-States, Inc. is a leader in the fight against the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic.

“Volunteers of America is very pleased to be part of the Smart on Crime Coalition.  A key goal of VOA Recovery, our comprehensive addiction recovery services, is to assure that we address addiction as a public health crisis and provide evidence-based healthcare solutions.  This work is a vital part of making sure our family, friends, and neighbors receive the help they need and have alternatives to the criminal justice system and incarceration,” said president and chief executive officer Jennifer Hancock.  “I am proud to stand with Kentucky leaders who are working for common-sense criminal justice reforms and solutions.”

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