Common Ground: Treatment Over Jail

05/21/2018 05:02 PM

As the opioid epidemic continues to grow—jails in Kentucky are becoming filled with low level non-violent offenders. Addicts are being locked up—instead of treated for substance abuse tearing families apart and causing prisons to become overcrowded.

It’s an issue that lawmakers in Kentucky are trying to tackle—and something Democrats and Republicans agree on—instead of sending drug offenders to prison, they should be sent to a treatment center to help cure their addiction.

Reps. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mills, and Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, tried to address this issue through legislation to allow families who are addicted to stay together instead of being jailed.

“We deserve fathers who are sober, stable and employed,” Moser said. “We deserve mothers who are needed to raise their families. We need children who don’t grow up parentless and trapped in a cycle of inter-generational criminality and institutionalization.”

Kentucky’s Justice and Safety Secretary John Tilley agrees addicts should be given help—instead of jail time.

“We have a an incredible churn in ou rsystem of low-level, non-violent offenders driven by the scourge of addiciton,” Tilley said. “We’ve been doing the same thing since 1971 and we can do better.”

It’s not just lawmakers that support this. A recent Kentucky Health Issues Poll revealed that eight out of ten Kentucky adults favor court mandated treatment programs for first or second time drug offenders.

The measure to address this stalled in the General Assembly this year as it was part of a sweeping criminal justice reform package that faced strong opposition. But bill sponsors says they will work during the interim to try and reach an agreement on some of the issues.

Watch the segment here:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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