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Kentucky’s new program for addicted criminals gaining national attention

April 6, 2009

With Senate Bill 4, the Kentucky General Assembly moved forward with the expansion of a program that offers much-needed substance abuse treatment to addicts facing criminal charges.

The bill signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear late last month would give those with addiction problems a chance to choose treatment before heading to trial, and with successful completion of a treatment program the possibility of criminal charges being reduced or dismissed.

Kentucky’s efforts in this area that mirror programs already being used in Daviess County are being commented on at the national level, with an Associated Press article over the weekend and several editorials.

Here’s an editorial from today’s Baltimore Sun that highlights what’s coming in Kentucky with Senate Bill 4 signed into law.

From the editorial –

Maryland lawmakers should take a lesson from Kentucky and other states that are looking for more effective ways of dealing with burgeoning inmate populations and hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders who would be better off in treatment than in prison. That’s not being soft on crime, it’s being serious about finding solutions that work.

The move is also being praised within Kentucky’s boundaries, including an editorial Sunday in the Courier-Journal.

From the C-J’s editorial –

In 1970, Kentucky’s prison population was fewer than 3,000 inmates.

In 2009, that number has grown to about 22,000. Among the current population, a whopping 6,110 are locked up for nonviolent drug offenses. (It is estimated that 80 percent of the people involved in the state’s criminal justice system are there as a direct or indirect result of drug abuse.)

All of that is why a new initiative signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear at the end of the just-concluded General Assembly is such welcome news.

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