Kentucky Criminal Justice Bill Could Help Spur Washington
The bill is a huge win that will likely save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Arthur Rizer—justice policy director and senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank. However, Rizer expressed some concerns to Bloomberg BNA on March 16 about the bill’s limitations that leave “very big holes” in its impact.
For example, Rizer said the bill still bans former violent felons from obtaining occupational licenses. A 10-year-old conviction as a teenager shouldn’t prevent a mature adult from becoming a nurse, he said.
Additionally, the bill would also allow private companies to set up factories in prisons where inmates could work for minimum wage, Rizer said. That could draw controversy from unions or other groups that seek to protect workers’ rights, he said.
As for spurring on Washington, Rizer said he isn’t as sure. On the one hand, Kentucky is a powerful state with a popular, conservative governor, he wrote. On the other, several conservative states have passed reform-based legislation and Washington hasn’t budged, he noted.
Yet overall, the legislation is a success because it will help former inmates while saving the state money, he clarified.
“The fact is post-release employment reduces recidivism—which will save money by not only preventing future lock ups but also move people into the tax base,” Rizer wrote in an email.