FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Frankfort, Ky. (April 9, 2021)— Today, in a timely celebration of April as Second Chance Month, Kentucky Smart on Crime, a coalition of 14 organizations dedicated to justice reforms in the Commonwealth, joined State Senator Julie Raque Adams of Louisville and State Representative Kim Moser of Taylor Mill in a virtual ceremony as Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed two important criminal justice bills into law.
HB 497, sponsored by Representative Kim Moser, removes barriers to reentry for those exiting the corrections system. HB 497 tasks the Kentucky Department of Corrections with issuing certificates of employability to those who successfully complete programs while in incarceration. In addition, it incentivizes employers by providing liability protections. The bill further encourages other important reentry supports such as IDs and better access to health care for people leaving incarceration.
SB 84, dubbed “Dignity Bill Part 2” and sponsored by Senator Julie Raque Adams, is legislation aimed at providing pregnant people in incarceration the necessary resources for a safe and healthy pregnancy. The bill forbids solitary confinement during pregnancy and a post-partum period, requires the Department of Corrections to provide more data on the use of solitary confinement, provides for six weeks of post-partum care, expands pregnancy medical release to include community-based treatment for substance use disorder, and ensures mothers have access to social workers for possible reunification after time served.
Participants in the virtual event also recognized April as Second Chance Month, affirming the Commonwealth’s support for removing the unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society.
HB 497 and SB 84 are two of six impactful criminal justice reforms that passed in the 2021 session of the Kentucky General Assembly. Other measures dealt with no-knock warrants, juvenile justice, realignment of the felony theft threshold, and law enforcement hiring and accountability.
What They’re Saying:
Second Chance Month
“My faith tells me that forgiveness is not just something someone offers grudgingly−instead, we are commanded to forgive and offer a path towards penitence. We are our brother’s keeper, and we need to remember all Kentuckians are our brothers and sisters and all deserve our love, our respect, and our help.” – Gov. Andy Beshear
HB 497 Successful Reentry:
“KyPolicy applauds Governor Beshear for taking a first step to addressing major barriers to successful reentry – access to employment, food and health care. Successful reentry with supports like photo IDs and access to public assistance, Medicaid, KTAP and SNAP, improves the health of Kentucky families and communities. Thank you Governor Beshear for signing HB 497 into law, creating opportunities for economic security and healthier reentry for Kentuckians returning to their communities.” − Jessica Klein, Policy Associate, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy
"Trauma affects people differently and when a survivor of sexual assault or abuse copes in ways that lead them into the criminal system, bills like HB497 and SB84 will offer hope. KASAP is grateful to see these bills signed into law." − Laela Kashan, Staff Attorney, Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs
“The Kentucky Chamber applauds the General Assembly and Governor Beshear for enacting important new laws to improve Kentucky’s criminal justice system. As the state continues to struggle with a low workforce participation rate, Kentucky companies are ready and willing to hire those in recovery and who are formerly incarcerated. If Kentucky wants to see economic recovery, we must create jobs and get people into positions and HB 497 is a critical step toward that goal. We thank Rep. Kim Moser for her hard work to ensure individuals are able to successfully reenter following incarceration.” − Kate Shanks, Vice President of Public Affairs, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
“This new law helps justice involved individuals out of the cycle of relapse and recidivism and toward independence and self-sufficiency through employment. This will save the state and counties untold millions in taxpayer dollars and has the potential to improve Kentucky’s workforce, strengthen families and save lives.” – Rep. Kim Moser, Taylor Mill
SB 84 Dignity Bill II
“With the passage and signing of SB 84, affectionately referred to as Dignity 2, Kentucky once again takes the lead on treating women in the criminal justice system, especially pregnant inmates, with the attention, respect, and dignity we would want from a humane criminal justice system. As a conservative I believe deeply in accountability and justice, but I also believe in redemption and the inherent dignity in every human life.” − Josh Crawford, Executive Director, Pegasus Institute.
“This legislation will change the outcome for so many Kentucky families, especially those families touched by substance use disorder. Many pregnant people are incarcerated due to crimes related to substance use disorder (SUD), a crisis we cannot incarcerate our way out of. Simple measures, such as connecting people to social services to make a plan for sobriety and family reunification, can make the difference between another incarcerated parent with a child in the foster care system and a thriving family.” − Jackie McGranahan, Policy Strategist, ACLU of Kentucky
“Pregnancy is a vulnerable time for all expectant mothers, but incarcerated women face unique obstacles while pregnant. Senate Bill 84 mindfully aims to improve the standard of medical care for incarcerated pregnant women by providing appropriate prenatal treatments and postpartum services that eliminate unnecessary health risks to mothers and their babies. Emphasis on mental and physical well-being is essential both during and after pregnancy. As a mother of two children, I was eager to sponsor SB 84 and am pleased to see it pass with overwhelming bipartisan support. As we seek to establish health policies that address this population’s unique needs, I hope that SB 84 will provide a higher standard of pregnancy care to ensure that incarcerated mothers are treated with compassion and dignity.” – Senator Julie Raque Adams, Louisville
For a video replay of the event:
About Kentucky Smart on Crime:
Kentucky Smart on Crime is a broad-based coalition working for common sense justice reforms that proactively address individual and systemic racial disparities and inequities, improve public health, enhance public safety, strengthen communities and promote cost-effective sentencing alternatives. Partner organizations include American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, Kentucky Council of Churches, Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc., Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Volunteers of America Mid-States, Inc., NAACP Kentucky, Kentucky Criminal Justice Forum, and United Way of Kentucky. For more information, visit: kysmartoncrime.com or @kysmartoncrime on Twitter.