State could create new class of felonies as part of criminal justice reforms

11/18/2010 07:26 PM

Rep. John Tilley, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said a group of officials who work on criminal justice issues will recommend a set of reforms that could include a new “Class E” felony aimed at improving the efficiency of the system.

Tilley, a Democrat from Hopkinsville, offered an update on the seven-member task force he’s been a part of that has been tasked with suggesting ways to improve the penal code. Specifically, they’ve been tackling ways to deal with the influx of state prisoners incarcerated for substance abuse.

The state put up $200,000 during this year’s General Assembly to be able to work with the Pew Foundation to look at criminal penalties, drug treatment options and work flow in the courthouses, among other areas, to save money in the increasingly costly corrections system.

One of the ideas gaining ground, Tilley said, is to create a fifth class of felonies for non-violent offenses that are still serious enough to be felonies but perhaps do not rise to the level of someone convicted spending more than a year in prison. Currently, class D felonies — the lowest level — carry a minimum of one to five years in prison.

Tilley said that also might allow for expungement of some of those offenses from a person’s record. “Convicted felons have a difficult time finding employment,” he said.

Tilley, in this part of the interview, also answers the question of how interested he is in potentially running for attorney general:

The task force on the penal code and Controlled Substance Act is co-chaired by Tilley and state Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London. Members include Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown, attorneys Tom Handy and J. Guthrie True and Larue County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner.

- Ryan Alessi

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